Several hundred supporters of US public broadcasting marched on Capitol Hill Saturday in a “Million Puppet March” in favor of ongoing federal funding for non-commercial programming.
The good-humored protest was prompted by Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s threat, in a televised debate with President Barack Obama a month ago, to halt government funding to public media if he wins the White House on Tuesday.
Marching alongside “Sesame Street” characters such as Big Bird and Kermit the Frog, were a protester in a latex Romney mask and a Halloween-themed ensemble that billed itself as “the finest skeletons from the national closet.”
“It’s not just ‘Sesame Street’,” co-organizer Michael Bellavia told AFP prior to the march, citing the long-running PBS educational television show tailored to young children.
“We’re saying we want to support the whole ecosystem of public media — everything from the TV side, to radio, to all the Internet media that gets produced,” he said.
Fifteen percent of the overall public broadcasting budget in the United States comes from Washington. Contributions from foundations and individuals makes up the rest.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, established by Congress in the 1960s to channel federal funds to PBS, National Public Radio and other non-commercial broadcasters, was not involved in Saturday’s protest.
But in a brief statement to AFP, it noted: “We appreciate the recent outpouring of support and affirmation for value of public broadcasting.
A short video of Bellavia at the march, posted on YouTube Saturday by WTOP-FM, can be seen below.