Speaking at a campaign event in Clinton, Iowa today, Mitt Romney said that he would not try to do away with PBS, but thinks that it should tap into the same stream of revenue as commercial networks.
“We’re not going to kill Big Bird, but Big Bird is going to have advertisements, all right,” Romney said during a Q&A session during a campaign stop, per the AP.
Public broadcasting has long been in the line of fire of many conservatives who believe that the government should not be in the business of TV programming. But efforts to scale back funding to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides a portion of the funding to public television stations, have been beaten back as viewers have lobbied lawmakers. Conservatives like Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) have complained about “the Muppet lobby,” referring to the oft-used strategy of trotting out Big Bird to Capitol Hill when public broadcasting funding is in danger.
Romney’s idea is not entirely novel, as detractors of public funding for broadcasting have long contended that private donations could make up the shortfall if government support was zeroed out. In fact, PBS earlier this year said it was considering a plan to include breaks during its programming with announcements from their corporate underwriters, a way to entice more support from foundations and private institutions.
Romney made it clear that he still likes PBS, but that government funding should be curtailed.