01 June 2011

Commercials coming to PBS

Sponsorship arrived many years ago, but now advertisements will be inserted into the body of the programming, as illustrated in the graphic above.  From a report in The Atlantic:
Network executives hope that the new strategy will prevent viewers from fleeing to other stations during the promotional breaks between programs, some of which can last up to eight minutes...

This is sad for two reasons. First, nobody wants to snap out of the Ken Burns zone for even a few seconds. As The Times points out in their coverage, PBS's chief selling point to both audiences and sponsors was the unbroken programming, a format that both felt more authentic and supports the in-depth focus of shows like Frontline or any of the network's many documentaries about everything you didn't think was so exceedingly interesting until you sat down and leaned in for an hour...

Second, this latest shake-up draws further attention to how [PBS] is in trouble. Last week, on the heels of the same meeting during which executives unveiled the new interrupted programming structure, The Times also reported how a number of stations were withdrawing from the network because of record high dues, in some cases to be replaced with programming from religious networks.


  1. Philosophically I'm upset that PBS is in financial trouble, but from a practical standpoint I can't get too worked up about commercials on PBS. I don't watch any TV show as it's broadcast; I DVR it for later viewing, and FF through the commercials.

    I'm saving my concern for the commercials' effect on programming and content.

  2. There goes the joke I've been telling since I was around 12. PBS...a lot of "bs" and no time to "p". It already wasn't as much fun when I stopped getting slapped for saying "bs".

    For a lot of people a solid hour (or two) is a long time to go without a bathroom break. I wish they'd toss a few commercials into the middle of a movie in theaters. Intermissions need to come back!

  3. "The length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder." --Alfred Hitchcock


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