Controversial ‘Arthur’ episode airs in East Tennessee with few complaints

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – An episode of the PBS children’s show “Arthur” that an Alabama PBS station chose not air because it includes a same-sex wedding scene has been shown several times by East Tennessee PBS with limited complaints.

The episode “Mr. Ratburn and the Special Someone” aired nationally and on the East Tennessee PBS’s kids’ channel on May 13. It shows Arthur attending the wedding of his teacher and partner.

The episode also did not initially air on Arkansas PBS, but in a tweet Tuesday, Arkansas public television said it will air the show multiple times on its kids’ channel.

The decision to not air the program in Alabama brought nationwide news interest. AL.com reported Alabama Public Television director of programming Mike Mckenzie defended the decision by saying parents trust that their children can watch the station without supervision.

The Alabama station previously dropped an episode of “Arthur” in 2005 when a character had two mothers.

Misty Souder, a substitute teacher from McCalla, Alabama, said in an Associated Press story, she was disappointed in the decision by the Alabama station. She says she’s using this to teach her 9-year-old daughter about the importance of standing up for minority groups, the AP story said.

“We first ran the Arthur episode in question on Monday, May 13th at 9 p.m. on our etpbs PBSKids 24/7 channels, 15.2 and 2.2,” said Russ Manning, Director of Programming for East Tennessee PBS. “It has repeated several times since and is still in our schedule.

“We have received a few complaints, both by email and phone calls. Most of these comments came after the news reports about the episode were released. We’ve also received some positive comments.”

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