Responding to Mitt Romney's statement that he would cut federal funding for public broadcasting if elected President, PBS CEO Paula Kerger was stunned to hear PBS mentioned in the debate and suggested that it was politically motivated.
During last night's debate between Romney and US President Barack Obama, the Republican candidate was talking about the cuts he would make to balance the budget. He told long-time PBS host Jim Lehrer—serving as the much-maligned moderator—that as much as he likes PBS, Big Bird, and Lehrer himself, he planned to eliminate the government subsidy to the public broadcaster.
Speaking to CNN's Carol Costello today, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger pointed out the absurdity of focusing on PBS' federal funding when the country is facing much bigger problems. Referencing both candidates' comments about increasing the emphasis on education, she noted that PBS is "America's biggest classroom" and has long been a tool for parents across the country to prepare their children for school.
When asked how much money Big Bird and the rest of the Sesame Street gang receive, Kerger explained that a majority of the funding goes to local stations, particularly in rural areas, to help keep them on the air. Without the subsidy, many of those stations will no longer be able to broadcast PBS' commercial-free educational programming. She also cited a survey last year that found 70% of Americans oppose measures to cut public broadcasting.
The government grant issued to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting totals $445 million over two years, barely a drop in the bucket of the federal budget worth upwards of $3.5 trillion. There's no question that Romney's snide Big Bird remark was designed to appeal to the hardcore conservative base who have no grasp of the numbers involved. Without the alternative offered by PBS, the only children's programming available is rife with obnoxious commercials for toys and sugary breakfast cereals.
Would you and your kids miss PBS? Do you think it should be federally funded?