That would be legendary consumer advocate and sometime Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader. He's asking parents to protest the folks behind Sesame Street, saying they've sold out.
Seems the producers of Sesame Street have agreed to a $1 million sponsorship deal with indoor playground manufacturer Discovery Zone--a first in the program's highly popular 30-year-run. Two 15-second Discovery Zone spots will air immediately before and after the program, according to the show's producer, Children's Television Workshop.
And that has Nader peeved.
"As Sesame Street turns 30, and adds these Discovery Zone commercials, perhaps it ought to change its name to Huckster Alley," Nader tells Associated Press. He says the ads target highly impressionable kids.
Meanwhile, Children's Television Workshop counters that it has no choice, given that government subsidies for its $20 million production budget have steadily eroded to about a third. (That shortfall has traditionally been made up for with merchandising deals and sales of a huge video library.)
The producers also claim the ads are aimed at the parents, not the kids.
"It's very disappointing, frankly, that [Nader] would smear the name of the one program that is trying to bring quality to children's television at a time when government funding and foundation funding have been declining," CTW executive Gary Knell tells AP.
CTW has no intention of letting go of the deal, either. In fact, it's reportedly seeking two more corporate sponsors to grow the amount of commercial time to 45 seconds before and after each program.
We say bring on the Nestlé Tollhouse Cookie Monster.