PBS Tells Lawmakers It Has ‘No Plans’ to Introduce HIV-Positive Muppet on U.S. Version of ‘Sesame Street’
The Public Broadcasting Service has "no plans" to introduce an HIV-positive Muppet character on the U.S. version of "Sesame Street" and will not use public funds to support the development of such a character for the South African version of the show, PBS President Pat Mitchell wrote yesterday in a letter to lawmakers, the Los Angeles Times reports. Mitchell was responding to a written request for information from House Energy and Commerce Chair Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and five Republican committee members, who expressed concern that such a character would be "inappropriate" for the show's U.S. viewers, who typically range between ages two and four. The concerned lawmakers wrote Mitchell after an executive at Sesame Workshop, the show's producer, said the HIV-positive Muppet character, which will debut on the South African show this fall, may be introduced in the United States (Jensen/Fackler, Los Angeles Times, 7/17). Mitchell said in her letter that the character is aimed "specifically and solely" at South Africa children to address "the raging AIDS epidemic there and its critical impact on children and families" (Hudson, Washington Times, 7/17). She added that the producer had "misspoke" and noted that PBS "has no relationship with Sesame Workshop regarding its South African programming" (Los Angeles Times, 7/17).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.