PBS has launched an internal review to find out why the gay mommies episode
of Postcards from Buster took so many people by surprise — especially
the show’s main funder, the U.S. Department of Education, and numerous aggravated conservatives. Two weeks after new Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings blasted the
children’s program for depicting same-sex parental couples, Minnesota conservatives were urging the state legislature to slash aid to Twin Cities PTV for airing the “Sugartime!” episode. Though PBS dropped the episode Jan. 25, mere hours before receiving Spellings’ searing letter, a quarter of public TV’s licensees — 46 of about 170 — have aired the show or plan to. Some aired it promptly and at the program’s usual hour.
At least five public TV stations have pledged to air a controversial episode of Postcards from Buster, dropped last week by PBS, that features two families headed by lesbian parents—despite strenuous objections by the nation’s new secretary of education, whose department provides significant funding for the series. About 20 other stations were considering running the show last week after viewing a preview tape that producer WGBH beamed by satellite to member stations on Thursday, said station spokeswoman Jeanne Hopkins. The controversy over the cartoon bunny comes at an awkward time for PBS, as it prepares to compete for renewed Ready to Learn funding from the Education Department. The agency has said it will divide a $24 million pot among as many as four grantees for five-year programming and outreach contracts. In the 10-year existence of the RTL program, CPB or PBS has administered the grants.