PBS will begin adding commercials to its shows this fall, according to the New York Times.
The public television network, which has always named corporate sponsors and underwriters at the beginning and end of programs, plans to insert “corporate and foundation sponsor spots, promotional messages and branding” into four breaks during “Nova” and “Nature” on Wednesday nights. The new approach would eventually expand night-by-night, PBS officials told member stations at its recent annual meeting in Orlando.
Some shows, like “Masterpiece Theater,” might not be interrupted, but generally the network would go from uninterrupted programming to having no longer than 15 minutes of programming without a commercial break, The Times says.
The current block of sponsor acknowledgements between shows can stretch for eight minutes and cause viewers to look elsewhere, the report points out. The new approach would eliminate downtime between programs.
On the other hand, part of PBS’ appeal is uninterrupted programming, and some suggest the change could hurt donations, which are increasingly important in the face of pressure to cut government funding.