Accuracy in Media

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida denounces Big Bird as a Billionaire:

“If we cannot get this billionaire off the public trough, than I ask how can we ever hope to cut spending.” 

Call or write Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite and thank her for leading the effort to cut the public broadcasting budget.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite
414 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-1002

Ms. GINNY BROWN-WAITE of Florida. Mr. Chairman, today we are talking about deficits, debt and tight spending. We are talking about tight veterans budgets and funding our troops. But the other side of the aisle will not let us even cut from the most obvious sources. I would like to let them know, and the other Members, let them know what PBS does not want you to know, Big Bird is a billionaire.

What they do not want you to know is that the marketing rights for Sesame Street and Barney total $1.3 billion. Merchandise from PBS can be found in every toy store across America, and yet that money does not appear on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s balance sheet. Americans should be shocked.

This is the height of absurdity, a massive corporation shielding its profits so that it can continue to feed at the Federal trough. Where is the Democratic outrage at this? If this were a Fortune 500 company, we would be hearing breathless condemnations from the other side. But there is actually more. The average household income of a listener of NPR is approximately $75,000. Guess what? This means the taxpayers are being soaked so that the affluent people can get their news commercial-free.

This debate shows that many people have truly met a government program they could not cut. Mr. Speaker, Big Bird is strong enough to fly on his own. If we cannot get this billionaire off the public trough, than I ask how can we ever hope to cut spending.

Mr. JERRY LEWIS of California. Mr. Chairman, will the gentlewoman yield?

Ms. GINNY BROWN-WAITE of Florida. I yield to the gentleman from California.

Mr. LEWIS of California. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the point that is being made. I think the listening public, the interested public, should know that the Federal funding for programs like Sesame Street, the popular children’s programs, frankly only 2.5 percent of that comes from the Federal Government. Indeed, the billionaire could clearly take care of that.

And one more point. For all those people who are calling our offices from San Francisco and New York and otherwise across the country, if each would just send another dollar, they would not have to bother with this; they would save that in the phone bills. 

Ms. GINNY BROWN-WAITE of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I could not agree with you more. And that exactly should be the message, that those who want to support public broadcasting should do it through their personal checkbook.

Note: “When advertising aimed at children became increasingly restricted on the networks, PBS became the venue for licensing bonanzas connected to its shows. For example, over 5,000 products connected to Sesame Street are grossing almost $1 billion in annual sales.”

Source: Public Broadcasting Can Flourish Without Government Subsidies, by Laurence Jarvik.




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