PBS Votes to Accept 30-Second Ad Spots

Times Staff Writer

Public Broadcasting System’s board of directors, as expected, voted Saturday to accept 30-second underwriting messages from corporate sponsors that spend at least $2.5 million annually with the public television broadcaster’s prime-time schedule.

The previous limit on the messages had been 15 seconds.

PBS executives hope the change will entice more support from corporate sponsors at a time when such spending is down, largely because of a soft economy.

Companies tend to prefer 30-second spots because they allow more time to get a message across.


Of PBS’ top 30 stations, 26 already accept 30-second messages, including KCET in Los Angeles.

The station last month laid off 14 staffers, a move it blamed on lower-than-expected subscriber revenue and corporate underwriting.

Some stations had argued the change would smack of commercialism and might jeopardize station funding from some states and educational institutions.

But a spokeswoman for PBS said that no package of advertisements would run longer than one minute. That, she said, might end up reducing ad clutter on PBS because fewer of the longer ads can fit into that time limit.


No children’s programs will be eligible for the longer messages, which are expected to be phased in as new underwriting deals are struck.

PBS made no changes in the strict limits on what the messages can say, including a prohibition on direct selling of goods.