Public Service Media Funding: It's Not About the Bird

I have no fear that my friends at Sesame Workshop will feel slighted by this; they know how much I love and respect them and their work.

But we need to stop saying "don't kill Big Bird" when fighting for public service media (it's not just broadcasting any longer) funding. It only opens the door to Sesame Street's HBO connection, which was uniquely suited and needed for that historic franchise. It’s not representative of what will happen to public radio, TV and digital services if "zeroed out."

If you want to cite public media's service to children, check out the Corporation for Public Broadcasting webpage with the widely diverse children's series it funds.

You could also focus on the loss of local insight and services - something cable and streamers can't provide. Here's a great column by the head of Alabama Public Television - deep in Trump/Red country, where the cuts will hit the hardest.

Or, talk about public radio, which has no equivalent in the commercial world. Sure, there are podcasts galore, but many of those emerge from public media sources. Again, they don't offer the local/national balance, or the diversity of content in one free place, not owned by I ❤️ Radio.

You could play a game of Public Service Media Bingo. Go to this page where CPB lists its wide-ranging projects, and see if you can find a row or column where all the projects could equally have been carried out by commercial media. Bet you can't.

Even my colleagues in commercial media have a stake in supporting sustainable funding for public media, as I wrote in 2011 during a previous spasm of threatened cuts.

Sesame Workshop continues to break new ground - even this week they introduced a Muppet child with autism, adding new depth to their 46-year mission helping children understand how to be a good friend to all kinds of people. But don’t make the public media fight about Big Bird.

If you still need a totem for the threats to public media, remember that Tigers are endangered.

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