‘Sesame Street’ On HBO: A Raw Deal For American Children?

Sesame Street, the world famous children’s show currently in its 45th year on television, enters a new chapter in its history after having entered a deal with HBO. Can you imagine tuning into watch the ethically challenged cops of True Detective just after you have had a fun time with Elmo, Snuffy, Grover and Big Bird? Well, that is exactly what is going to happen within a matter of weeks.

According to NPR, HBO, Sesame Workshop, and PBS have announced a new deal which will see Sesame Street moved to HBO from this fall. This means for the first time in its illustrious 45-year history, Sesame Street will move from the state-owned PBS to a premium cable service: HBO. PBS will still broadcast the new shows, but a full nine months after they air exclusively on HBO.

Ever since the announcement, discordant murmurs about the future of the show have been rife among members of the general public, and also among die-hard adult fans of Sesame Street. While it is certain that the deal with HBO will allow the show more programming (up from 18 to 35 episodes a season) and more revenue, some have argued that the latest deal represents a betrayal of American children.

Since its inception in 1969, Sesame Street has played a big role as an educational service, especially for America’s underprivileged children. Many fear the new deal is a manifestation of America’s increasing class divide, which will see many children miss out on the popular show because of their inaccessibility to premium cable television. PBS’ terse but powerful press release spoke volumes about its reach.

“PBS stations reach more kids aged 2-5, more moms with children under 6 years old and more low-income children than any other kids TV network.”

However, while disillusionment about the new deal continues to grow, the creators of Sesame Street see the new deal only as a good thing. Speaking about the partnership, Sesame Workshop CEO Jeffrey Dunn said it will help Sesame Street with much-needed funding and also help the show continue its good work in the digital space.

“[The new partnership] provides Sesame Workshop with the critical funding it needs to be able to continue production of Sesame Street and secure its nonprofit mission of helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder.”

Newton N. Minow, former Federal Communications Commission Chairman and the man responsible behind the genesis of Sesame Street, also extended his support when writing about the partnership in Huffington Post.

“Sesame Workshop, like every legacy media venture, needs the human and financial resources to compete and to thrive in the digital media marketplace, and HBO can provide them. For several years now, the most innovative programming on television has come from cable programmers, not broadcasters.”

We can only wait to see what impact Sesame Street‘s new deal has on America’s children.

[Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia, HBO.com]