Polar Bear with kissing cub Killian.COM Earl Killian Commentary Quotes Books etc. Friends Only

Open letter to the President of KQED

Date: Nov 16 09:14:16 -0800 1997
From: Earl A. Killian <earl at killian.com>
To: pres at kqed.org
Subject: Corporate sponsorship

I am very concerned about corporate sponsorship of public radio and TV
programs.  I believe that corporate sponsorship works in the same way
as advertisement, and compromises editorial independence.  At this
point in time I consider KQED to be a commercial station, given the
extended advertisements I heard for program sponsors (e.g. "sponsored
by X, maker of Y, with all the following great properties").

Given Congressional budget cuts for public broadcasting, I suspect
some corporate sponsored programs are inevitable, but I would like to
see balancing influences.  Therefore I suggest that KQED implement a
split: some programs are 100% corporate sponsered and some programs
are 100% viewer sponsored.  As a viewer, I can decide how much trust
to place in the editorial independence of a particular program based
on its sponsorship.  A mixture of corporate and viewer sponsorship
spread across all programs fails to provide any reassurance on the
growing influence of those that control the purse strings.

I urge you to designate a set of programs that are 100% viewer
sponsored.  I would appreciate hearing your thoughts on this matter.


Earl Killian

KQED’s reply

Date: 2 Apr 1998 20:00:34 -0800
From: "Mary Bitterman" <mary_bitterman at qm.kqed.org>
To: "Earl Killian" <earl at killian.com>
Cc: "bruce bennett" <Bruce at marinternet.com>
Subject: Your letter

		      Subject:                              Time:  7:48 PM
  OFFICE MEMO         Your letter                           Date:  4/2/98

I very much regret that I did not receive your letter of November l6 which Mr.
Bruce Bennett just brought to my attention.  We try to respond to all concerns
and questions from the community, and I was surprised that Mr. Bennett knew
about a letter to me while I had no knowledge of it.  I am grateful to Mr.
Bennett for his assistance.

I appreciate your sharing your concerns with me regarding corporate
underwriting of public broadcasting programs.  Since Congressional support
amounts to just 7% of our total budget at KQED, we approach viewers and
listeners as well as foundations and corporations for contributions.  63% of
our support comes from our audience members, l8% from corporations, and the
remainder from foundations.  Corporate underwriting secured locally is used
mostly to defray the cost of program acquisition and broadcast.  Corporate
underwriting obtained nationally by a program producer to defray production
costs must be acknowledged on our air.  Because a good portion of our schedule
both for radio and television derives from NPR and PBS respectively, I’m
afraid it would not be possible to divide programming neatly between l00%
viewer sponsored and l00% corporate sponsored.  Nevertheless, your point about
the need to protect editorial independence (and thereby retain community
trust) is a crucial one and one which receives and will continue to receive a
great deal of attention from us and the community we serve.

As you know, the underwriting credits permitted by the FCC for non-commercial
educational broadcasters are different from "advertisements" used by
commercial stations.  At KQED, we enforce the FCC underwriting guidelines
rigorously --  no comparisons, no qualitative claims, no price information, no
inducements to buy products, and no calls to action -- and we shall continue
to do so.

I thank you again for bringing your views to my attention, and I regret that I
did not know of them sooner.  Also, I am indebted to Mr. Bruce Bennett for his
thoughtfulness in ensuring that I became aware of your correspondence.

All good wishes, Mary Bitterman

PUBLIC NOTICE: Use of Killian.COM computer and network facilities for the purpose of transmitting unsolicited commercial advertising electronic mail to any user or account on or through Killian.COM machines is expressly PROHIBITED. Appearance of any e-mail addresses on these pages does *NOT* constitute solicitation of advertising e-mail.