“Style Boston,” a truly Amateur Half-Hour program, debuted on regional cable news network NECN Wednesday night, and the thunk could be heard all the way to Worcester.
The Boston Globe’s ever-upbeat Names page described “Style Boston” this way:
The show, which is cohosted by Terri Stanley and Tonya Chen Mezrich, focuses on fashion, design, and all things chic and sophisticated around New England.
No doubt the Boston air-kiss set considered it terrific TV, but back here in the real world, “Style Boston” was barely community-access-cable ready.
The real problem, though, is not “Style Boston’s” styleless premiere, but NECN’s companion blurring of the line between advertising and editorial.
As far as I can gather, “Style Boston” is paid programming on NECN, with the producers buying time from the cable net each week and selling ads to offset the cost. It also appears that “Style Boston” falls into the category of “branded content,” which is to say the advertisers don’t run commercials during the program, but have their products and services embedded in the show itself.
Nothing unusual about that these days, but here’s my question: Why did NECN promote this advertorial in its News Day Live program, and why does NECN’s Arts & Entertainment webpage overflow with features from “Style Boston”?
This is different from NECN’s unfortunate collaboration with “The Open Book Club” paid program, cohosted by former Massachusetts House Speaker Sal Dimasi’s wife. The Open Book Club was closed back in June, as the Globe reported:
New England Cable News is pulling the plug on “The Open Book Club,” saying that airing the program cohosted by Deborah DiMasi could create an appearance of a conflict of interest as the station covers the federal corruption case against her husband, former House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi.
The monthly show featured Deborah DiMasi and Christy Cashman, the wife of wealthy contractor Jay Cashman, chatting with authors in Cashman’s wood-paneled home library. The former speaker appeared on the show to discuss “Bridge of Sighs” with the author, Richard Russo.
Fun fact to know and tell:
Cashman paid NECN for the airtime. Station officials also would not say how much NECN charges Cashman for the “paid program.”
Not sure which Cashman paid NECN for the airtime, but why get technical about it.
Back to “Style Boston:” Not sure why NECN is pawning off advertising as editorial content on its Arts & Entertainment webpage.
But why get technical about it.