Pledge promotions “shameful,” Fanning says

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Influential pubcaster David Fanning, Frontline e.p., had harsh words on what he sees as the growing commercialism in pubcasting during his James L. Loper Lecture in Public Service Broadcasting at the Annenberg School for Communication. One evening after he’d spoken at a station fundraiser, he recalled, “I was scrolling through the channels when I came across a shopping channel with a dubious doctor selling nutritional supplements. I was interested in a perversely fascinated way as he promised all sorts of remedies, including — and I’m not exaggerating here — results for cancer sufferers. And then the shot changed to a woman with him who said that if you bought these supplements you’d be making a donation to . . . yes, the public television station I’d just left. And there, in the wide shot, was the backdrop I’d stood before that evening . . . Nova, Nature, and Frontline . . . This is our deepest embarrassment as public broadcasters. I have heard the arguments, and I understand the imperatives, but to think that, hucksters aside, we spend more of our energy and on-air promotional time, pushing programs that have nothing to do with our mission, is shameful.” Read Fanning’s full remarks here.