Local infomercial “Style Boston” has expanded its footprint, as they call it in the TV biz, from a half-hour per week to three hours a week, thanks to a new arrangement with regional cable-news outlet NECN and Comcast Sportsnet New England.

Which means Style Boston is buying six times as much airtime as it used to.

(An executive at Comcast Sportsnet New England told Sneak ADtack that Style Boston’s status has not changed, and that it still purchases whatever timeslot it appears in.)

Style Boston, to be clear, is what once was called “paid programming,” now relabeled “branded entertainment.” The outfit buys time on NECN and Sportsnet, then charges local businesses (hotels, restaurants, retail stores, etc.) to feature them on the show.

Nothing unusual there, really, except for this: NECN, which charges to run what is essentially marketing material, also features the program in its newscasts. (See here.)

NECN.com text:

(NECN) – The new Facebook movie “The Social Network” is getting lots of buzz around the country.

NECN’s styleboston talked with writer Aaron Sorkin and lead actor Jesse Eisenberg. styleboston’s Terri Stanley visited to talk about their exclusive interviews, and how the stars think the social networking site is affecting the rest of the world.

You can catch the full interviews on styleboston this Saturday at 8:30 p.m.

NECN’s styleboston?


Two questions:

1) How does an infomercial become “NECN’s styleboston”?

2) What’s NECN’s justification for passing off what is essentially marketing material as editorial content?

(Full disclosure: The hardworking staff at Sneak ADtack has taken NECN to task previously in another venue. See here.)

Final question:

Why are none of the local media watchdogs dogging NECN about this clear breach of journalistic ethics?

John R. Carroll is media analyst for NPR's Here & Now and senior news analyst for WBUR in Boston. He also writes at Campaign Outsider and It's Good to Live in a Two-Daily Town.
John R. Carroll has 305 post(s) on Sneak Adtack