Alabama Public Television is standing by its decision not to air an episode of the PBS Kids show “Arthur.”
The first episode of the 22nd season, titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” features the first gay wedding in the show’s history. In the episode, Arthur’s teacher, Mr. Ratburn, marries a chocolatier named Patrick.
APT ran a repeat episode instead and said it does not plan to show the season premiere.
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” APT director of programming Mike McKenzie said in a statement to AL.com. “More importantly — although we strongly encourage parents to watch television with their children and talk about what they have learned afterwards — parents trust that their children can watch APT without their supervision. We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for ‘Arthur’ also watch the program.”
McKenzie told NBC News the station would have taken away parents’ ability to choose what their children watch.
“The vast majority of parents will not have heard about the content, whether they agree with it or not,” he said. “Because of this, we felt it would be a violation of trust to broadcast the episode.”
APT was among many PBS member stations that didn’t air a 2005 episode of the “Arthur” spin off “Postcards From Buster.” In the episode, titled “Sugartime!” the character Buster visits Hinesburg, Vermont, to learn about the production of maple sugar. He meets children who live with their mother and stepmother. The couple are referred to as partners in the episode.
WGBH, a member station that produces “Arthur” and “Postcards from Buster,” aired the episode and offered it to other stations, some of which chose to air it.