Huffpost Entertainment

Uh-Oh Elmo! Sesame Workshop Cutting 20%

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NEW YORK — The crisis on Wall Street is plaguing Sesame Street.

Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit producer of "Sesame Street" and other kids' programs, is cutting about one-fifth of its work force because of the economic downturn.

The New York-based company said Wednesday that it's eliminating 67 of 355 staff positions.

Declaring it is "not immune to the unprecedented challenges of today's economic environment," the company pronounced a need "to operate with fewer resources in order to achieve our strategic priorities."

The statement reiterated the organization's mission "of helping children reach their highest potential here and around the globe."

Best known as the home of such Muppet characters as Big Bird and Elmo, Sesame Workshop was founded in 1968 as Children's Television Workshop, then unveiled the groundbreaking "Sesame Street" as a literacy-building initiative a year later. That show, which remains a worldwide hit, was the first step toward a media empire that encompasses television, books, toys and online programing.

Among the company's early TV efforts is "The Electric Company," which aired during the 1970s and was revived with new episodes on PBS in January.

Sesame Workshop gets revenue from product licensing and the sale of its programs to PBS and syndication. The company is also funded by government agencies, foundations and corporations.

Total revenue was $145 million in 2008, with operating expenses totaling $141 million, according to the company's Web site.

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On the Net:

http://www.sesameworkshop.org