Commercial Alert Rips PBS A New One
Commercial Alert sent a letter today to PBS, criticizing it for partnering with Comcast in a 24-hour cable channel for children that will carry advertisements. The letter follows.
Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer
Public Broadcasting System
1320 Braddock Place
Alexandria, VA 22314
Via fax: (703) 739-7500
Dear Mr. Godwin:
The New York Times reports today that PBS and Comcast are partners in a new 24-hour digital cable channel for children that will play commercials along with programs such as Elmo and Sesame Street. Other co-owners will be Sesame Workshop and HIT Entertainment.
Public broadcasting is supposed to be an alternative to the commercial networks and a refuge from the huckstering that assaults children there. It is supposed to give kids, and parents, a real choice in this regard – a choice where kids won’t be seduced with junk food, junk entertainments and noxious commercial values with which parents may disagree.
In case you somehow haven’t noticed, American children already are subject to an unprecedented barrage of commercial propaganda. And, not surprisingly, they suffer from an epidemic of marketing-related diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Recent research by Juliet Schor found that “High consumer involvement is a significant cause of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and psychosomatic complaints” in children. Why would you want to make this any worse?
Your descent into commercial predation has been swift. In 1998, PBS first ran national commercials before and after Sesame Street. And despite shocking rates of childhood obesity, in 2003, PBS began running ads for McDonalds before and after Sesame Street. What’s next? A partnership with Philip Morris? If there’s enough money in it, why not?
Children need adults who will stand up to the commercial culture. They need adults who will put their health and development above the interests of money. It looks as though they aren’t going to find these adults at PBS any more.