Can’t help myself: Sponsored segments during local newscast seems so wrong

Rich DeMuro - Sponsored by AT&T U-Verse TV

Rich DeMuro, host of sponsored AT&T U-Verse TV segment on WGN-TV news, Dec. 24, 2014.

As technology changes the way society consumes its news, media companies and their respective news organizations have had to find unique ways to better maximize revenues. While I understand that, what I saw this morning on the WGN-TV Ch. 9 morning news still came off as just plain wrong in my book.

Near the end of the 8 a.m. hour was a two minute segment sponsored by AT&T U-Verse TV. The piece heavily pushed an AT&T U-Verse Christmas app for kids,  which featured a variety of Christmas-themed bells and whistles, including a Santa Claus tracker. While its presentation was that of a regular newscast, it was completly separate from that of WGN (no direct join-in or reference from WGN anchors).

The beginning of the segment was identified as taking place from the AT&T U-Verse TV studio while a banner flag appeared at the bottom of the screen throughout to inform viewers that what they were viewing was promotional. The segment was hosted by Rich DeMuro, a tech reporter for KTLA-TV in Los Angeles. Upon further research, these segments likely appear on local news stations throughout the country.

While I’m not necessarily lambasting what I saw this morning on WGN, it still came across as tacky. I attempted to talk myself into believing that this somehow is no different than traditional commercials surrounding a normal newscast or advertisements surrounding copy inside newspapers. For whatever reason, I’m having a hard time accepting that.

At the very least, the segment was nowhere near as cringeworthy as the Susanna Negovan segments that have appeared on WFLD-TV/Fox 32’s newscasts…

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