February 3, 2005
OutcomeBuffalo > News

WNED-TV AIRS CONTROVERSIAL
BUSTER EPISODE

BUFFALO-- — A number of local public TV stations may run an episode of the animated series “Postcards From Buster” featuring a real family headed by a lesbian couple despite a decision by PBS not to distribute the program. PBS said its unusual decision to drop the episode was made independently, not because of pressure from the U.S. Department of Education’s new secretary, Margaret Spellings. (WNED-TV aired the program on February 2, 2005.)

Spellings wrote to PBS President Pat Mitchell asking the network to consider removing the department’s logo and returning the public money spent on the episode.

She says the episode strays from the intent of the government program designed to prepare preschoolers for school: ‘’Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in this episode.’’ Spellings was applauded by James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, which has criticized the use of the SpongeBob SquarePants cartoon character in a video it says promotes homosexuality.

Focus on Family is a Christian hate group who target gay people for persecution.

Spellings, denounced PBS for spending public funds to tape an episode of a children’s program that features Pike, a lesbian, her partner, Gillian Pieper, and their 11-year-old daughter, Emma. The installment of ‘’Postcards From Buster,” which had been scheduled to air March 23, was promptly dropped by PBS, which is refusing to distribute the footage to its 349 member stations.

WNED-TV in Buffalo, along with at least 13 other PBS stations, including WNET-TV in New York and KVIE-TV in Sacramento, declared that it would air the episode anyway. WNED spokesperson Darwin McPherson told Outcome that WNED-TV would more than likely air the episode. “The issue has not really been brought up.”

McPherson did promise to bring the issue up with the program director and inform Outcome of any change in the programming schedule. (WNED-TV aired the program on February 2, 2005.)

The episode makes no mention of the affectional or civil union relationship between the mothers of the children featured on the program.

PBS arrived at its decision not to distribute the episode the same day, but not because of Spellings’ letter, said John Wilson, PBS’ senior vice president of programming. PBS member stations are autonomous and may choose which programs to air, but when PBS supplies a program, it appears in TV guides and many stations feel compelled to run it, Wilson said.

The series, designed for children age 6 to 8, shows the animated bunny Buster, a friend of the storybook and TV character Arthur, visiting real children in diverse parts of the U.S. “This is a show about kids learning from other kids,” said Jeanne Hopkins of WGBH-TV in Boston, which produced the program. “We’ve visited kids who are Muslim, Mormon, Eastern Orthodox, Pentacostal, kids rurally, kids in cities, kids whose fathers and mothers are heterosexual, single parent, living with grandparents.” -staff


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