The top PBS station in New York is marketing itself to potential new donors in the most natural way: by snobbishly mocking commercial TV as “a sea of madness.” Sadly, commercial TV stations probably won’t fight back by mocking prissy British period dramas like “Downton Abbey.” (I might suggest a mop-topped Muppet that looks like Ken Burns that constantly boasts of his own importance as a national story-teller.)
The New York Times reports WNET is undertaking a subway advertising and Twitter campaign mocking fake shows that sound like the “reality” shows currently airing on The History Channel or TLC, channels that conservatives have argued were airing programming similar to PBS fare:
Driving through Chick-fil-A to get a kid’s meal for my daughter today, the "toy" that came with the chicken nuggets was a CD-Rom from the public-TV kids’ show Between the Lions. The logos for Boston PBS superstation WGBH and Mississippi Public Broadcasting were right on the CD case.
This underlines how blurry the line is between public television and private-sector merchandising. On Thursday, Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes reported from Pasadena that "PBS President Paula Kerger opened her Q&A at Winter TV Press Tour 2010 by blasting commercial broadcasters" for failing to educate children.
DeMoraes was skeptical enough to include how the PBS boss actually faced challenging questions from a troublesome "critic" on the incessant merchandising of public-broadcasting kids’ shows like Sesame Street (once estimated by the Licensing Letter to offer 1,000 licensed products.) This is terrific: