RE: In Remembrance of Liberty and Justice for All

From: Tony Whitson (
Date: Wed Jan 26 2005 - 20:56:29 PST

Thanks, Jay,


I wanted to learn more about this. It turns out that PBS has pulled the


LexisNexisT Academic
Copyright 2005 Warren Publishing, Inc.
Communications Daily
January 27, 2005, Thursday

SECTION: Broadcast
LENGTH: 433 words
PBS announced it was pulling an episode of a cartoon- cum-live action
program featuring a lesbian couple, but said it wasn't linked to objections
raised by Education Secy. Margaret Spellings. Spelling told PBS Pres. Pat
Mitchell in a letter Tues. that using federal money on a cartoon with
lesbian characters went against congressional intent for children's
programming. PBS Senior Vp- Programming John Wilson told us the network had
notified stations about its decision not to distribute the episode hours
before it received the letter from Spellings because it found that the
lesbian family "kept moving to the center of the episode" rather than being
the backdrop. The episode Sugartime was part of the series Postcards From
Buster, which is funded in part by the DoE administered Ready-To-Learn
Program. Programs funded by RTL should fulfill "research-based educational
objectives, content and materials," Spellings said. Many parents wouldn't
wish to expose children to gay lifestyles, she said: "Congress' and the
Department's purpose in funding this programming certainly was not to
introduce this kind of subject matter to children, particularly through the
powerful and intimate medium of television." However, producing stations
WGBH Boston has decided to air the episode and make it available to other
stations. "In public television, local autonomy is the rule and not the
exception," said Wilson of WGBH's decision. He said WGBH had considered the
"relevant community standards" and decided the episode meets them. He said
PBS agreed with Spellings that the issue was "sensitive," with the family
headed by "two moms" coming into the foreground and "obscuring and clouding"
the actual subject of the program. Parents should have the option of
addressing the issue with their children "in a time and manner of their own
choosing," Wilson said. Spellings suggested that PBS refund the money spent
on the episode "in the interest of avoiding embroiling the Ready-To-Learn
program in a controversy that will only hurt" the program. She also urged
that PBS delete references to the department on the episode and notify
stations of the nature of the show so they could review it before deciding
to air it. Wilson said the question of a refund would arise only if PBS
distributed the episode. The network will produce another episode in its
place. Asked if WGBH would use its own funds to make up for the federal
dollars, he said PBS would "work with" the station to resolve the issue. "If
need be we will use nonfederal funds to offset the cost of the episode." --

LOAD-DATE: January 26, 2005


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Tue Feb 01 2005 - 01:00:05 PST