This week I started noticing something related to entertainment programming. First, there is a new series called "Who do you think you are?" produced by Lisa Kudrow and underwritten primarily by Ancestry.com. Second, there is predominant product placement and advertising on Dirty Jobs. Third, Bertolli is advertising a web program featuring Marisa Tomei traveling around the culinary world of Italy.
These are just few examples of a definite trend of corporations creating concepts for media content. This is nothing new, of course, but it's at a level not seen in decades, going back to radio programs (Remember Ovaltine and Little Orphan Annie? Of course you don't. Neither do I). It's akin to the concept Brian Fuller calls Vendor as Publisher.
There are those that are going to freak out about this, saying the corporate takeover of media is the death of journalism, but we have to remember that all media is owned in some form by a corporation. This blog, for example, is the property of Footwasher Media Corporation. MSNBC is owned by General Electric. The San Francisco Chronicle is owned by Hearst Newspaper Corporation, which is owned by the Hearst Corporation, which owns Electronic Products and Sunical Land ( a real estate company ). Corporations have always owned media. It's just that they weren't as obvious about it for a few decades.
Corporations are the foundation of all media. Without their financial support, media doesn't survive. But at the same time, they can't survive without media and as media continues to contract and morph, we're going to see more companies become out front with their support of specific content that benefits their own aims. It's neither good not bad. It's just the way it has always been.