PBS, YouTube TV Deal Gets Pushback

PBS's new deal to put its content, and affiliate station's content, on YouTube TV drew some immediate flak over the partially government-funded noncommercial service's announcement that it was teaming up with the Google social media giant to stream noncom stations and content on the over-the-top video streaming service.

The deal did not sit well with kids' privacy advocates, including Jeff Chester, whose Center for Digital Democracy is among those who have complained to the FTC about YouTube and kids' content, and are awaiting a reported FTC decision any day that YouTube is settling multiple complaints about how the site collects and shares children’s information.

"PBS must explain how it will protect the privacy and the well-being of its viewers as its programming becomes part of Google’s digital data targeting behemoth," said Chester. "We are especially concerned that PBS, in order to gain a few more viewers, is willing to trade away the privacy rights of children, parents and others. PBS must explain what data will be gathered and how it will be used by Google and advertisers to target the public."

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David Monahan, campaign manager for Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, was similarly concerned about the combo.

“YouTube TV has been touting to advertisers their advanced ability to deliver targeted marketing with a high return on investment, based on their intrusive data-collection about the preferences of viewers," said David Monahan, campaign manager for Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which also complained to the FTC about YouTube. "Parents rely on PBS to deliver almost-ad-free programming to young children, and PBS must ensure that this does not all go out the window once PBS Kids shows come to YouTube TV.”

"[T]oday’s announcement solely focuses on YouTube TV," said a PBS spokesperson. "Until today’s announcement people were not able to access PBS station content via this 'skinny bundle' service. As part of our service to the American people, it is a priority for PBS to make our programming accessible wherever people consume content. On YouTube TV viewers will see the very same commercial-free PBS and PBS Kids content they find on their local PBS station."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.