It is, of course, the political season, but are those who are making a big deal about Mitt Romney’s debate comment about PBS and Big Bird overreacting? To put it another way: Isn’t the Sesame Street franchise in particular strong enough by now — it’s been on the air since 1969 — to make a go of it without being on the taxpayer’s dime?
After all, cable networks like Discovery, Animal Planet, NatGeo, and many others are doing just fine standing on their own in the private marketplace without taxpayer funding. Should PBS continue to be treated differently?
This Romney vs. Big Bird story is being hyped up in part for political reasons to (unsuccessfully) try to change the subject from President Obama’s disasterous debate performance on Wednesday night. In the aftermath of the debate, Romney is gaining ground in the polling according to various news outlets, assuming the polling is and has been accurate in the first place, which is a debatable point in and of itself.
That being said, US Senator Jim DeMint notes that “from 2003 to 2006, Sesame Street made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales.”
So Big Bird is living large, as BigHollywood.com explains:
“If you break that down, it works out to over $50 million a year Sesame Street is taking in from all that merchandising.”
“Yep, that one-percenter Big Bird makes about four times what Mitt Romney does annually and yet Barack Obama still wants you and I to still carry his freight.”
PBS and NPR receive about $400 million in taxpayer money every year. Should PBS continue to get a taxpayer subsidy given the massive deficit and the debt, or should this be one of many federal government programs that needs to be cut?