In 1967, when Congress passed the Public Broadcasting Act, family options for quality children’s programming were severely limited. More than four decades later, there’s a vibrant marketplace for educational broadcasting — on radio, TV and the Internet — that teems with furry friends and information-packed shows.

PBS speaks of itself with cultish self-reverence: “For more than 40 years,” the government network chastised Romney, “Big Bird has embodied the public broadcasting mission — harnessing the power of media for the good of every citizen, regardless of where they live or their ability to pay. Our system serves as a universally accessible resource for education, history, science, arts and civil discourse.”

In reality, of course, PBS affiliates have become increasingly corporatized. As GOP Sen. Jim DeMint noted last year, franchises like Sesame Street “are multimillion-dollar enterprises capable of thriving in the private market. According to the 990 tax form all nonprofits are required to file, Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell received $956,513 — nearly a million dollars — in compensation in 2008. And, from 2003 to 2006, ‘Sesame Street’ made more than $211 million from toy and consumer product sales.”