The "Sugartime" episode of the animated kids programme examines farm life and maple sugaring in Vermont, a state which permits civil unions between same-sex partners. It just so happens that a couple in the programme who run a farm happen to be of the same gender. A storm of controversy arose when the American education secretary, Margaret Spellings, criticised the programme:
"Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the lifestyles portrayed in the episode. Congress' and the Department's purpose in funding this programming certainly was not to introduce this kind of subject matter to children, particularly through the powerful and intimate medium of television."
Following Spellings' comments, the PBS network decided to pull the episode from its 349 affiliate stations - while at the same time attempting to claim that the decision had nothing to do with the secretary's views. However, WGBH-TV Boston, the public TV station that produces the show, announced that it would go ahead and air the episode on March 23, and also offered the episode to all other PBS stations regardless of the network's official stance.
Today, a spokesperson for WGBH told Digital Spy:
"We have 45 stations signed on to air the episode... These 45 stations, many in major markets, represent a little over 50% of public television viewership."
The spokesperson added that more stations are signing on to air the episode every day, and that because the rights window is open for three years, stations can air the episode through 2008.