The Shop Talk panelists discuss complaints about a Nova special about drones that was underwritten by Lockheed Martin, which is a drone manufacturer.
Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) complained the situation violated PBS’s guidelines concerning sponsorship and conflicts of interest.
The public television network said Lockheed Martin had no editorial involvement in the program. PBS also pointed out Lockheed Martin’s funding support was properly noted when the program was broadcast, though the PBS ombudsman conceded there is no mention of it when the program is viewed on-line.
The ombudsman also acknowledged the situation created a perception problem.
The Shop Talk panelists believe PBS could have helped itself by being more transparent about the matter. They also feel such problems could be avoided if public broadcasters were able to rely less on underwriting for funding support and more on the audience and the government.