Bert, Ernie and gang are back in the saddle

Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Grover and Cookie Monster found out Wednesday that they’ll be alive for at least four more years, with PBS’ announcement of an extension of its partnership with the Children’s Television Workshop to continue making and airing “Sesame Street.”

The beloved public TV morning children’s strip celebrates its 30th year beginning this fall.

The four-year renewal agreement will keep “Sesame Street” rolling to the tune of 130 new episodes each season, or a whopping 520 hours over the length of the upcoming deal. It keeps the series in originals through 2002.

In addition to firstrun broadcast in the U.S., the pact maintains PBS’ right to transmit new episodes of “Sesame Street” on its principal direct broadcast satellite service and the right of PBS and CTW to jointly host the “Sesame Street” Website over PBS Online. “Sesame Street” has won more than 100 awards in its history, including 67 Emmys — more than any series in TV history.

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