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PBS defunded in Oklahoma

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R-Oklahoma) effectively defunded his State’s PBS “chapter,” citing morally objectionable content and an “outdated” concept.

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PBS defunded in Oklahoma

The governor of Oklahoma has effectively defunded Oklahoma’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) “chapter” for the next three years. That could possibly turn off PBS in Oklahoma forever.

The PBS dust-up in Oklahoma

Gov. Kevin Stitt (R-Okla.) defended his decision yesterday, in the wake of sharp criticism of his funding veto. His main objection is that it features LGBTQIA+ content, that many in Oklahoma and elsewhere find objectionable. In addition he questioned the very concept of public television and public funding of television content or delivery. He called the State PBS “chapter”

an outdated system. You know, the big, big question is why are we spending taxpayer dollars to prop up or compete with the private sector and run television stations? And then when you go through all of the programming that’s happening and the indoctrination and over-sexualization of our children, it’s just really problematic, and it doesn’t line up with Oklahoma values

Two weeks ago the governor vetoed the periodic funding for the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA). OETA is the Oklahoma “chapter” of the nationwide Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Gov. Stitt accused PBS of indoctrinating children with LGBTQIA+ propaganda. He cited subtle script elements – like referring to a character’s “brother and his husband.” (That particular script won an Emmy, and the recipient shouted out to “LGBTQUIA+ kids” in his acceptance speech.)

The apparent last straw for Gov. Stitt was a “drag queen reading lesson” on the PBS program Let’s Learn. The governor cited other examples, like a same-sex wedding, Christians depicted as “dismantl[ing] stereotypes” about cross-dressers, and an excess of programming related to “Pride Month” which will take place in June.

Ironically, absent a veto override, June will be the last full month of PBS programming in Oklahoma. On July 1, all programming disappears. The funding measure would have supported the system until January 2026.

In a parallel move that might or might not be significant, Gov. Stitt later signed a bill forbidding sexual reassignment surgeries or hormonal treatments for minors.

Support for OETA

An organization calling itself Friends of OETA has presumably existed for years. (All States have “friends of” type organizations supporting their State and local PBS stations.) Two officials spoke separately to Fox News to protest the veto.

In his veto message, Gov. Stitt had said:

It may have had its place in 1957. Why are we spending taxpayer dollars to prop up the OETA? It makes no sense to me. If you want to watch that, that’s fine. But why am I using taxpayer dollars to prop that up? I don’t think we need that and I’m glad to veto that bill.

In answer, Kevin Busby, a member of Friends of OETA’s board, said:

OETA is the most-watched PBS station in the country. Over 650,000 viewers a week are watching PBS in Oklahoma. No civilization since the Norman Conquest in 1066 has survived that did not support arts and culture. They’re all gone. Civilization is about its culture, its history, and its arts.

Busby then suggested that terminating OETA would interfere with emergency alert broadcasting. In answer, Gov. Stitt said he was “not sure how much OETA is helping public safety.” Besides, the Emergency Alert System, replacing the old Emergency Broadcast System, has nothing to do with PBS. EAS uses Specific Area Message Encoding to send an alert to a specific dangerous situation in a select area. (EAS and EBS originally existed to allow the President to address the country in a national emergency. But no President has ever had to use either system for that purpose.)

Robert Spinks, head of Friends of OETA, objected to Gov. Stitt’s idea that taxpayers should not support TV stations.

We don’t think that the reasons are in the best interests of the people of Oklahoma… We serve all 77 counties in Oklahoma. We’re the only broadcast entity that does that, and we serve everybody — that’s what we’re supposed to do, and that’s what we work at all the time. So, the veto of our reauthorization is of grave concern because the state holds the license under which we operate. And if we don’t renew that reauthorization, then we will go away.

When Fox News asked him to address the objections to LGBTQIA+ children’s programming, Spinks replied:

People always have their own perspectives on things. And because we do try to serve everyone that lives in our state in equal manner, it makes it challenging to always provide programming that any one individual would find appropriate… Our programming for children’s programs comes through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and our partnership with them. You know, I suppose anyone can have an opinion about programming for children. Certainly, I did it when my children were young. But, you know, it’s the parent’s responsibility to decide whether they think the programming is appropriate.

Spinks did offer this perspective on where OETA gets its funding:

The funding that comes from the state of Oklahoma provides about a third of our budget. The other two thirds come from our fundraising that we do. And then through grants that we secure from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and other entities who are interested in what we do educationally.

Given the above, what effect the loss of funds will have on PBS in Oklahoma, apart from a return of the Beg-A-Thons featuring phone banks on stage, remains unclear.

Separately, Citizens Defending Freedom is trying to cancel nationwide PBS funding. They raise the same content issues the governor raised.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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Donald R. Laster, Jr

Something people need to remember is the acronym “LGBTQUIA+” is used to obscure the actual words for the deviant and abnormal behaviors people are promoting. The words and phrases that should be being used are sodomy, sodomite, sodomize, homosexual, mental illness, deviance, etc.


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