Every time Congress threatens to pull federal funding for PBS and NPR, PBS tends to pull out all the stops to encourage them to continue. They bring out the “Sesame Street” Muppet Elmo, for example, and who can resist that? In 2002, Elmo even testified before Congress (Morton, 2002)…
The ironic thing is Elmo’s involvement in the whole thing, because if PBS were to end today, it would have very little impact on “Sesame Street.” “Sesame Street” and the Sesame Workshop (SW), the non-profit organization that produces it, currently depend very little on public funding. Most of what “Sesame Street” historian Louise A. Gikow (2009) has called its “endowment” (p. 268) depends upon other sources like licensing and merchandising sales from “Sesame Street” toys, DVDs, clothing, and books. “Sesame Street” dependency on federal funds occurred in its early years, when much of its initial $8 million budget came from the federal government. Early on, however, the SW recognized that if they were to survive past the first two seasons, they would have to raise money from other sources, so they established a “non-broadcasting” department. They also began producing versions of the show in other countries. ...
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