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Jim Leherer couldn’t get a word in edgewise during the debate while the two candidates pledged themselves to take America down a better path. The viewing public heard many statements as to how they would  ‘fix’ the country.  People should have, by now,  garnered enough information to make UP their minds.

But, alas, what did everyone come away with?

“Big Bird must die!”

That’s right, Mitt Romney said he would cut funding to PBS.  Now, I don’t know if he really would, I don’t know if he’ll get the chance, but I do watch a lot of PBS.

I’ll admit it, I’m a costume drama kind of guy, and Big Bird and Elmo entertained my children often, allowing me to lie on the sofa like Peg Bundy eating bon-bons.

Big Bird and Elmo

I’m grateful for that.

However, there are some interesting things about PBS that I found in my research.

The agency Governor Romney spoke about is in reality The Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  It’s a federal thing, brought about on November 7, 1967 during the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson.  Lady Bird was a big fan.

Congress allots cold hard cash to CPB, which in turn along with donations ‘from viewers like you’ fund the Public Broadcasting System. In 2012, that allotment was $445.2 million dollars.  In 2005, the only report I could find, the American public donated $650 million.

The board is appointed by the President of the United States and approved by Congress.  Board members serve six year terms, and a sitting President cannot appoint more than five of the seats to members of the same political party.  The members are generally culled from PBS stations around the country, with a banker or politician thrown in for fun. Often times, members are relatives of former members, founders, and the political wonks who got it all started in the first place.  Nepotism isn’t a sin after all.

But, that’s the boring part.

Governor Romney’s comment that he would cut funding to PBS set tongues a waggin’.  Every one is out to save Big Bird. But there’s more to PBS than Big Bird, there’s a whole lot of cash on the table.

Oh shit, Mitt!

ITV, a major commercial British Television network brings us Downton Abbey.  I’m addicted to the Crawley sisters…

The Other one on the left of Hot and Hotter

…Edythe, Mary, and Sybil and their staff bring joy to my life, and I’d hate to see it go away.  But, guess what.  ITV made $3.4 BILLION last year, and the Downton Abbey coup added plenty to their $634 million dollar profits, a 24% increase in ONE YEAR!

It’s not going anywhere!

The Muppet Movie ALONE has made $78.7 million.  And Sesame Street is estimated to be a $300 million franchise.

Thomas The Train and all his buddies were sold to Mattel for $680 million!

First stop, The Bank!

Downton Abbey’s DVDs of season one became the highest selling DVD series of all time on Amazon.com, surpassing Friends and The Sopranos. To UPdate the old question “Ginger or Mary Anne” , one now must ask, “Jennifer or Mary Crawley?” Fannistons everywhere are furious!

PBS pays Julian Fellowes and the like to broadcast their work on federally funded TV stations, and Julian and his friends make money off the broadcast.  It’s called branding.

So, worry not my friends, even if the funding for public broadcasting is slashed,Big Bird won’t have to hitch a ride with Thomas the Tank Engine on the way to the Downton Abbey poorhouse.  There’s too much money to be made selling high brow educational TV shows to the American public, even if half the country watches Honey Boo Boo!

Matthew Crawley

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