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PBS to Sell Banner Ads on Website for Children

From an article of the same title by Jim Puzzanghera in the LA Times:

PBS plans to resume selling advertisements on its popular PBS Kids website, angering parents, children's advocates and consumer watchdog groups concerned that the plan would pollute one of the last commercial-free bastions for kids on the Internet.

"Children are basically inundated with marketing and the PBS website was in some ways a sanctuary," said Susan Linn, a psychologist and co-founder of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in Boston. "This is just one more step in the commercialization of PBS and children's programming."

PBS said it needed to find new revenue sources because its funding was unreliable. The public broadcaster joins other media entities in tapping into a booming online advertising market.

"This is going to be very smart and respectful, and anything that will appear online will be in the spirit of what is on PBS on air," said Kevin Dando, director of education and online communications at PBS.

Dando would not say how much money the ads were expected to generate.

Sponsorship messages already appear before and after children's TV shows such as "Sesame Street" that air on PBS stations. Web pages for individual children's shows also feature sponsors and links to their websites...

The flap over advertising is not the first for PBS. The public broadcaster upset watchdog groups as well as many of its own stations with the 2005 launch of an advertising-supported joint-venture cable channel targeting preschool children called PBS Kids Sprout. PBS also got static in recent years for allowing fast-food giant McDonald's to sponsor the venerable "Sesame Street."

Now, these critics worry that once PBS gets a taste of revenue from the sale of commercials online, it won't be able to resist selling traditional advertisements on its television shows.

I still get a kick out of the Futurama episode where advertisements are broadcasted into people's dreams.

Fry: "That's awful! It's like brainwashing."

Leela: "Didn't you have ads in the 20th century?"

Fry: "Well, sure, but not in our dreams...only on TV and radio...and in magazines and movies and at ball games, on buses and milk cartons and t-shirts and bananas and written on the sky. But not in dreams! No sir-eee!"

That's the first part of the episode. Part 2 is here and part 3 is here.

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