The presidential debate over Main Street and Wall Street shifts to Sesame Street.
In Wednesday night’s televised debate, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he will cut funding for public broadcasting, if elected.
“I like Big Bird,” Romney said, “but I’m not going to keep spending money that we have to borrow from China to pay for it.”
The government spends about 1/100th of a percent of its total budget on public television and radio. That's about $1.35 per person, per year.
Seattle's KCTS TV only gets about 10% of its funding from the federal government, while Seattle’s KUOW public radio gets 6% of its funding from the government.
If that money were to be cut off, both stations would likely survive, but smaller stations might not.
“They would go under and then the next tier of stations would struggle and there would be this domino effect that would really eliminate public broadcasting as we know it today," said KCTS CEO Maurice Bresnahan.
Ironically, Romney’s desire to stop funding for public broadcasting brought a spike of donations during KUOW’s current pledge drive. Volunteers said several callers specifically mentioned the Romney comment.
“I said I heard him say the words myself,” said one volunteer. “He said, in that case I want to double my pledge.”
Ultimately, people like that may end up proving the Republicans point. If people want their Big Bird bad enough, they may end up parting with some of their nest egg for it.