At 6:15 this morning, the KQRS morning show broadcast a 60 second commercial for Twin Cities Public Television's (TPT) broadcast of the Antique Road Show. Don't get me wrong - Road Show is a good show, and offers a great educational and historical perspective. But what happened to the "public" in "public television?"
Here are the issues in this situation:
- I know of no business, none, that is not in cut-back mode. We're firing people left and right, freezing wages, invoking furloughs, killing profit-sharing, killing 401k contributions, etc. This is what life is like in the real world. How, in this environment, does government get up the funds to all of the sudden do advertising?
- Is buying advertising the best use of the taxes you have paid? Is it how their members choose to have their contributions spent?
- KQ dominates radio in the Twin Cities. Their morning show, in terms of dominance of share, is top 5 in the nation, and has been for years. It's not cheap. Of all the properties in which TPT could advertise, it chose the absolute most expensive - by a long shot.
- Radio advertising is finite - there are only so many spots per show. Now that government is buying spots, guess what happens to the remaining spots? Limited supply, meet increased demand...
- And hey, as long as we're advertising, there's no need for a more cost effective :30 spot - let's buy the big :60! It's just the taxpayers' and members' money.
I know there's precedent for the government advertising - the USPS has been doing it for years now. And with their loss of nearly $3B in 2008 and projected losses of an even greater amount in 2009, that's a heck of a model to emulate.
Let's hope that this is just some kind of test.