Toon union targets PBS

Local 839 plans to picket L.A. affil KCET

Union cartoonists have stepped up their campaign to stop the Public Broadcasting Corp. from providing funding for Canadian-drawn cartoons and plan to picket PBS’ Los Angeles affiliate KCET on April 13.

The Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Local 839 has targeted shows produced by Montreal-based Cinar Films, including “Arthur,” “Wimzie’s House” and “Zaboomafoo,” and a PBS partnership with Toronto-based Nelvana.

The local, which represents over 2,000 animation writers, artists and technicians, has asserted that PBS is using U.S. tax dollars to put American screen cartoonists out of business. The Los Angeles-based local began pressing the issue last fall.

PBS spokesman Tom Epstein said in response that “very little” in the way of federal funds are going to Cinar while the Nelvana deal has no such backing. He also noted that PBS is constantly looking for programs from all sources.

“Our mission is to acquire the finest children’s programming we can find,” Epstein said. “Our door is always open to American producers.”

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