Alabama Public Television chose not to air PBS’ recent “Arthur” episode that featured a same-sex marriage.
During the animated series’ 22nd season premiere, titled “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone,” Arthur’s third-grade teacher, Mr. Ratburn, marries Patrick, a chocolatier, at a wedding attended by his students Arthur, Francine, Buster and Muffy. It aired May 13.
Mike McKenzie, director of programming at APT, told NBC News on Monday that PBS sent a message to stations in mid-April alerting them “to possible viewer concerns about the content of the program.” After he and others at APT viewed the episode, they decided not to broadcast it and showed a rerun instead.
“Parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire,” McKenzie said in a statement. “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 also said that if APT had aired the episode, the station would have taken away the choice of parents who felt it was inappropriate for their children.