By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Crossing the infomercial divide

I watched in slack-jawed amazement last night as WBZ-TV (Channel 4) took up 1:58 of its newscast for this Song of Itself — a gushing tribute to a CBS-branded sports bar to be built at Gillette Stadium. (CBS, of course, is WBZ’s corporate owner.) Yes, WBZ disclosed. Then it oozed. The piece was a truly odious use of airtime.

You know that little plug the Boston Globe gave to a Red Sox DVD that its corporate cousin NESN produced and that I poked fun at? I take it back. Not a problem. Not when a network-affiliate newscast broadcasts a two-minute commercial for a bar that its parent company is opening. I’d rather drink alone.

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  1. rozzie 02131

    In fairness to channel 4, both the Globe and the Herald had rather huge pieces on the restaurant too. It does look like a high-tech piece of work, and I have to admit I read both stories with interest.

  2. Brian F.

    This seems to happen all the time now. My skin curls when they do “stories” on their network programming.

  3. DJS

    But it doesn’t matter if the Globe and Herald ran stories about the bar. They don’t own it; WBZ does.

  4. Peter Porcupine

    Hey, Dan! ‘BZ reads Media Nation!There was a segment of the 11 pm news with Lisa Hughes about CBS Scene, which says it will have space for various CBS entities ‘…like its affiliate WBZ…’Keeping them honest, one slip-up at a time…

  5. Anonymous

    It’s not unlike the so-called news pieces that WCVB runs on their 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM evening news programs about some celebrity foolishness that inevitably ends up being nothing more than a commercial for a program to be shown later on that night on their station. A waste of time and space. If they have that much space to fill, then perhaps they should be thinking of having just 30 minutes of evening news, and fill it with real news, not tabloid quality junk designed to entertain more than inform.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    PP: They were right up front about disclosing. It’s just that it was icky beyond belief.

  7. Steve

    Now add to the account the story on the same subject running on WBZ radio this morning twice an hour.I didn’t catch a disclosure, but I wasn’t paying close attention.

  8. Anonymous

    EB3 hereI’m waiting for a Boston Phoenix themed bar and drill.

  9. Anonymous

    Kind of like “here’s my latest in the Guardian.”

  10. Anonymous

    You want icky? How about Kevin Trudeau, infomercial king and convicted felon, (“Cures ‘they’ don’t want you to know about”) who has made hundreds of millions of dollars by using First Amendment protections as a tool to swindle suckers? “Most likely to succeed” in his Lynn high school, he now lives on the West Coast and has his own section of the Federal Trade Commission home page. That Boston stations sell time to him and his “ITV” associates hawking cancer cures to the desperate is beneath contempt. Incestuous business relationships by public companies are pretty innocuous by comparison.

  11. Scott Allen Miller

    Get ready for a LOT more of this. The point of creating CBS Scene is to 1) turn Foxboro into a year-round money making destination for the Kraft Group and 2) buy off at least one segment of the press by entering into a “partnership” that ensures nothing but positive coverage (the way the Red Sox have) and oodles of promotion/marketing disguised as news.

  12. Anonymous

    Dan, I’m actually surprised that you are surprised at this kind of thing.Analogy. I had about 20 years of subscriptions to both Bon Appetit and Gourmet magazines. After a while, it became clear that, after Conde Nast bought them, they were tilting their editorial content to benefit their advertisers. And we cancelled our subscriptions.CBS is doing precisely the same thing with WBZ. Product placement in a newscast.–raj

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