With TV news operations producing more and more hours of content, filling the time becomes even more of a challenge. That's no excuse, however, for padding out newscasts with blatantly promotional content -- which Channel 9 has been doing on a far-too-regular basis of late during the 5 a.m. hour of its highly rated news block. I noted one such example in the blog "9News Gives Away Airtime for Peanuts," during which the station ran an extended piece tying in to an online Peanuts election gimmick that had already expired. However, I found today's example of the practice even more egregious. The outlet broadcast a promo package for the animated film Bolt, which opens today, complete with canned commentary from voice actors such as John Travolta and Miley Cyrus, who were seen talking to an inquisitor offscreen between repeated zoom-ins on the Bolt logo, seen above. This is the type of stuff used between programming on the Disney Channel, and it went on for more than three minutes -- forever in TV-news terms.
I understand how difficult it is to keep the content coming, particularly for 9News, which is also airing local updates and info on Channel 20 these days. But there are plenty of canned packages available that at least resemble news. In contrast, the Bolt material was simply an extended advertisement that went on and on and on. If this keeps up, viewers won't be able to tell the difference between news programs and infomercials. As if they don't have enough trouble doing so already. -- Michael Roberts