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WGBH Launches Sponsorship Site

Noncommercial WGBH Boston, one of PBS' major program producers, is trying to make it easier for advertisers to sponsor series it produces or co-produces -- including Masterpiece Theater, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline and Nova -- as well as some big-name shows produced by others -- Sesame Street, Barney, Arthur -- that it also reps.

The station has launched a stand-alone Web site (, for Sponsorship Group of Public Television, to provide one-stop shopping for potential sponsors.

The site provides, among other things, a list of the shows, testimonials from satisfied customers and a pitch for ad-friendlier public TV that points out that sponsorship guidelines have been loosened to allow "people talking on camera, products being used and lyrics to music," though the spots are still not supposed to explicitly promote the product.

Up until last year, WGBH had teamed with other big-time noncom producing stations WNET New York and WETA Washington to collectively pitch their programs to advertisers. But given cutbacks in federal funds and donor support, says Lance Ozier, Vice President for National Program Marketing, they decided to split up and compete for those precious dollars.

While the stations agreed to share leads if an advertiser wants a particular show (for a finders fee if the lead pans out), they do not cross-promote each other's service. "We don't go out of our way to let [advertisers] know there are other shows out there," says Ozier of the new site.

Over the past six years, WGBH says its sponsorship team has generated over $150 million from sponsors including current clients Volkswagen, Liberty Mutual, Libby’s Juicy Juice, The Chubb Group, Sprint and Microsoft.

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.