PubcastersPlan 'Sesame Street' For Boomers

With $5 million in grant money and a charter to "navigate a new life stage" for Baby Boomers and "unleash

their full potential," Twin Cities Public Television has laid the ground work for Next Avenue, a

multiplatform initiative that is targeted for a spring 2011 launch with a Web site "hub" that will be its

main attraction.

Next Avenue, which is in collaboration with American Public Television and PBS, is likened by its creators to Sesame
for adults (perhaps that is where the Katy Perry video justpulled by Sesame Street for being too adult could reside).

"Backed by
three years of research and groundwork, Next Avenue intends
to leverage the power of public media - online, on air and on the ground - to support this huge, diverse and influential generation in much the same way Sesame Street and PBS KIDS have supported and engaged young children and their families for many years," says a release outlining the new venture.

The money is coming from Atlantic Philanthropies ($3.5 million), General Mills ($1 million), and Medtronic

($500,000). But Twin Cities will also seek a "limited number" of category-exclusive corporate sponsors and

offer them content relationships online, though with that content "clearly identified."

Any concern about including sponsor generated content? "Corporate sponsorship is an important part of how this initiative is being put together," sad a Next Avenue spokesperson, "and any corporate-sponsored content on will be clearly delineated and there will be guidelines to protect the integrity of the site. One of the reasons sponsors are interested in a public television initiative is the trust factor that public broadcasters have with the audience, and that trust factor something that is of the utmost importance to Next Avenue. "

Public broadcasters have long tapped corporations to help cover the costs not paid for out of government funding and contributions from viewers.

The effort will offer a "blend" of content from public media and nonprofit partners, centered on that online hub, which will include "video, information, targeted e-newsletters, customized tools for better living, original content, user-generated content...a vetted database of content contributed by public media and such organizations as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the National Institutes of Health, the Office of Public Health and Science, and Boomer think tank Civic Ventures."

It will also include TV series and interstitials leveraging "well-known and well-regarded public television personalities and brands," as well as community events. Sesame Street is not exected to be one of them, but content deals include with Rick Steves' Europe, America's Test Kitchen, and Live from the Artists Den, arroding to a source.

"We are designing Next Avenue to be a virtual ‘life coach' for baby boomers," says Next Avenue CEO Jim Pagliarini, who is also president of Twin cities Public TV. "It will also challenge them to see the opportunities life holds after 45."

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.