The Arkansas Educational Television Network (AETN) chose not to air the premiere episode of “Arthur” on its stations this month, citing concerns about a gay wedding featured in the program.
Julie Thomas, who heads marketing at AETN, the state network of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television stations, told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that the network decided to scrap the episode following a preview of the show in April.
“AETN was notified in April by PBS and producing station WGBH about the episode,” Thomas told the newspaper. “We previewed the episode in question because content decisions that affect our smallest viewers and their parents are a major concern for us."
“While ideally parents watch our programming with their children and discuss it with them afterwards, the reality is that many children, some of them younger than age four, watch when a parent is not in the room,” she continued. “In realizing that many parents may not have been aware of the topics of the episode beforehand, we made the decision not to air it on our main channel.”
The episode in question features a wedding between Arthur's third grade teacher, Mr. Ratburn, and a local chocolatier, who is also male.
In place of the show’s 22nd season premiere, AETN told the paper that it showed a rerun instead.
The news arrives on the heels of similar reports that emerged last week about Alabama Public Television also choosing to air a rerun in place of the show’s premiere episode because of its inclusion of a gay wedding.
At the time, the network said in a statement explaining the decision that “parents have trusted Alabama Public Television for more than 50 years to provide children’s programs that entertain, educate and inspire.”
“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,” it added. “We also know that children who are younger than the ‘target’ audience for Arthur also watch the program."