PBS is reportedly teaming with Green Mountain Roasters coffee to create and market its own PBS Blend, an organic coffee it will market online and in its catalog, though not on-air.
A rainy Sunday, the Times, NPR, and a cup of noncom java. Sounds like a holiday recipe worth clipping from where I sit.
But that plan left a bitter taste with Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, who has been increasingly critical of public broadcasting efforts to make money through ancillary channels, like ads on its Web site.
"PBS should `smell the coffee' and realize that such for-profit ventures threaten to undermine the rationale for taxpayer support," Chester told B&C. "Securing more commercial alliances is a short-sighted and short-term strategy for the so-called non-commercial network. It is inappropriate for PBS to engage in commercial ventures, something it increasingly is doing. The network runs the risk of alienating support just as the Democrats regain control of Congress. Why should the public fund a TV network which is just another competitor to Starbucks?"
PBS isn't precluded from profitable ventures, just from making a buck on its programming, though arguably it is making a buck on the cache of its programming. Still, I don't see much harm in getting some bang out of the brand for a service constantly under threat of having money yanked by Congress.
I definitely see cross-promotional opportunities with, say, Mr. Bean. Or how about a Mysery Roast or This Old Maxwell House coffee. I've always wanted to name that PBS logo profile guy. How about Jo? Out of my way, I'm just getting started!
By John Eggerton.