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KARE will sell spots on morning talk show

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS -- KARE-TV plans to start selling off 5-minute segments on a midmorning talk show next year, raising the hackles of media watchdogs.

Spots on "Today" will sell for $2,000 to $2,500 when the show becomes "Showcase Minnesota" on March 27, said John Remes, general manager of the Gannett-owned NBC affiliate.

Gannett stations in Denver, Sacramento, Atlanta and Cleveland already use the "advertainment" format, mingling entertainment with paid advertising segments -- separate from regular commercial breaks. But KARE is the first to switch an existing show to the format.

"This is an opportunity for advertisers to connect with audiences in a way they haven't done before," Remes said.

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A local media watchdog said the move hurts viewers.

"I am aghast," said University of Minnesota media ethics professor Jane Kirtley, who at first thought a reporter was kidding about the format change. "This is the logical extension of the whole pernicious practice of infomercials. If viewers are accustomed to getting (talk show) programming in a very different way, to suddenly change the rules on them isn't fair."

Remes said "Showcase Minnesota" will clearly mark paid and unpaid segments, and newsroom employees won't appear on the show, nor will news footage be aired. KARE's sales and advertising department will supervise the show.

"Today" hosts Pat Evans and Roxane Battle, both employees of the station's newsroom, have been asked to stay with the show as advertising department employees. Evans said he'll probably stay with the newsroom, while Battle said she was undecided.

Remes said the show won't necessarily start charging longtime guests of "Today," such as Lund's executive chef Sue Erickson.

"The ones who will pay are those who have agreed to go on because of this new opportunity," he said.

Viewers can check out the advertainment format next month, when KARE broadcasts "Minnesota Holiday Showcase," a collection of advertiser-funded segments.

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