Oklahoma Governor Defends Move To Eliminate Funding For Public Television Outlet Over LGBTQ Content
Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt vetoed funding last month for the state’s public television network, a decision he says was triggered in part by content he has deemed “indoctrination” of children.
Calling the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority an “outdated system,” Stitt said in an interview with Fox News Digital, “The big question is why are we spending taxpayer dollars to prop up or compete with the private sector and run television stations? And then when you go through all of the programing that’s happening, the indoctrination, the over-sexualization of our children, it’s just really problematic, and it doesn’t line up with Oklahoma values.”
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An OETA spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment.
But Stitt’s move signals a potential new chapter in the culture wars, which has seen conservative communities restrict books from school and public libraries over content they have deemed inappropriate for children. Stitt’s office has pointed out material it has found objectionable, pointing to a segment of Let’s Learn in that featured Lil Miss Hot Mess reading the book, The Hips on the Drag Queen Go Swish, Swish, Swish.
Ken Busby, a board member of Friends of OETA, told local KTUL that the governor’s effort was to try to dictate content. He said that those decisions should not be “because one person or one body says, ‘Hey, we think you should look at the world differently.’ We’re not doing it that way. We’re doing it based on those we serve.”
The bill that Stitt vetoed would have authorized OETA operations through 2026, as it is licensed to the state. Stitt told Fox News Digital that the state would still find a way to preserve public television functions like emergency warning systems, and defended his administration’s support of the arts and public schools. The governor said that the current public television structure, with government funding, was “outdated.”
OETA also relies on private contributions, but supporters have warned that the loss of state funding would likely end or severely curtail operations. According to its website, OETA uses state funds for operational expenses, with programming purchased through its supporting organization, Friends of OETA as well as corporate contributions.
The state legislature could attempt to override the governor’s veto, but it is unclear if it will do so. The measure overwhelmingly passed the Republican-controlled state legislature.
State Rep. Monroe Nichols said in a statement, “Make no mistake, the veto has nothing to do with what is good for Oklahoma. It is clear Governor Stitt saw another governor pick a fight with Mickey Mouse so now he’s doing his best to keep pace by sticking it to Big Bird.
“It is unfortunate, but this action is part of the governor’s continued attack on public education and underrepresented Oklahoma communities.”
The bipartisan support for public broadcasting among Oklahoma lawmakers extends to those in Congress.
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) has been recognized as a public broadcasting champion by the advocacy group America’s Public Television Stations. A spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment on the governor’s veto.
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