ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 5.03 - JUNE 2000

PBS Outrage
Recent news reports, including Rick DeMott's "Picketing In Front of PBS! Just Blame It On Canada?" (DeMott, 5.02) in the May Animation World Magazine, point out that PBS is denying any federal funding of foreign labor for animated cartoons. Further research demonstrates that these programs are, in fact, funded by the federal government, through the auspices of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Department of Education, into a program called "PBS Kids Ready to Learn." Recipients of these funds are Nelvana, CINAR and CineGroupe.

Nelvana announced this deal with PBS with the following online press release. Note the mention of the "Ready to Learn" service:

"Through this strategic relationship, Nelvana will produce and deliver six book-based children's series for the U.S. public network's Fall 2000 program season. As part of the agreement, PBS is committed to commission for subsequent seasons a minimum two of the six series as daily strips (40-episodes) for its weekday PBS KIDS Ready-to-Learn Service. The production commitment for the Saturday morning block and the two stripped series totals approximately U.S. $40 million." (http://www.newswire.ca/releases/August1999/03/c0142.html)

From the August 16, 1999 issue of the online magazine Current:

"Nelvana Ltd., one of the continent's largest animation studios, will produce six new children's series for PBS's fall 2000 schedule. The shows will air as the network's first-ever Saturday morning children's block, and at least two of the series, yet to be selected, will live on as stripped shows as part of PBS' weekday Ready to Learn programming." (http://www.current.org/ch/ch915c.html)

The following links provide further information on Ready-to-Learn, as funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, as funded by the federal government, as funded by your taxpayer dollars:

The PBS Kids' show Dragon Tales, a production of Children's Television Workshop and Columbia/TriStar Television, was actually animated overseas. This was partially funded with a $4.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education, which can be confirmed at: http://www.cpb.org/atwork/media/pressrelease/archive/1996/01.08.96.html

To promote PBS Kids, the network hired London-based Passion Pictures to make "strings, bumpers," and "idents," as reported in Animation World Magazine’s February 2000 issue (DeMott, 4.11) in the Television News section.

It's interesting that when PBS announced its deal with the Canadian studio CineGroupe to make 40 half-hour episodes of Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat, they did not mention its budget nor source of funding, even though it is part of the PBS Kids Ready to Learn service. The press release can be found at: http://www.pbs.org/insidepbs/news/sagwa.html

In addition to Ready to Learn, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting funds programming through other initiatives:

"CPB is a major source of funding for programming on public broadcasting. Operating within Congressionally-prescribed guidelines, CPB awards grants for the production of innovative, educational and informational radio and television programs for national distribution." (http://www.cpb.org/program/)

"CPB provides funding support to more than 1,000 public television and radio stations nationwide. The annual grants from CPB help stations meet operating and programming costs. CPB's support to stations guarantees universal access to public broadcasting's educational services and programming, and ensures that stations can exchange program materials through a national system of interconnection. Through the Future Funds and other grant initiatives, CPB seeks to help public television and radio stations serve their communities more efficiently and effectively." (http://www.cpb.org/stations/)

For PBS to deny taxpayer involvement in funding foreign labor to produce cartoons is absurd. Write to PBS, to your newspaper and TV stations, and to your Congressional representatives. The Motion Picture Screen Cartoonists Local 839 has provided contact information at: http://www.awn.com/MPSC839/PB200004.HTM#PBSflyer

Please continue to cover this issue. PBS's back-stabbing of American animators should be exposed.

"Outraged."

Editor’s Note: Creative Planet has recently launched a series of discussion forums. If you’d like to continue this discussion you can join the Animation Café!


Note: Readers may contact any Animation World Magazine contributor by sending an e-mail to editor@awn.com.


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