Saturday, July 18, 2009
The July 13 broadcast of Nightly News was brought to us with "limited commercial interruption" courtesy of the University of Phoenix, the broadcast's sole sponsor. Four days later, during a July 17 Nightly News story about Western Governors University (an on-line non-profit university), Tom Costello made a point of telling us that, "The biggest for-profit (on-line) schools include the University of Phoenix...." while the screen displayed a clear picture of the school's logo. Come on, now. Are we supposed to believe that this is some sort of a coincidence? The University of Phoenix sponsors an entire Nightly News broadcast and four days later they just happen to get a prominent on-air plug during another Nightly News broadcast? It's obvious what's going on here. The money spent by the University of Phoenix on the sponsorship also entitles them to plugs on future Nightly News broadcasts. The University of Phoenix is now part of an exclusive club of NBC advertisers. NBC News does this for all their high-spending "partners"--McDonald's, Coke, Nike, General Mills, Pfizer, Glaxo, United Airlines--the list goes on. But in the future, NBC might want to be a little less obvious about it. They might want to wait more than four days before offering a free plug to one of their new full-show sponsors.