A new NBC web series called Fact Checkers Unit launched Aug 17.
The eight-episode comedy program – not available conventionally but only digitally through the Web or Video on Demand downloading – follows the two men in the fact-checking department of fictional Dictum magazine. It seems to be a spoof of the rarefied reputations of magazines, such as The New Yorker and The Atlantic Monthly, whose fact-checking departments are both mythical and legendary. It surely fits in too with the recent splurge of fact-checking of TV programs such as This Week’s PolitiFact and WikiFactCheck.
The series stars Peter Karinen and Brian Sacca and features guest stars 90210’s Luke Perry and Scrubs‘ Donald Faison, among others. And just so happens to feature a Samsung Galaxy S phone.
Media Post reported that that the phone is used throughout the show for fact-checking research. “Concerning the product itself — the product placement for the new Galaxy S phone: the fact-check characters will use the phone for navigation to find celebrities’ homes and to look up photos and other content,” according to Media Post.
Gawker criticized the program for its mixing of advertising and content. However, since the show is not news by any stretch, but an entertainment comedy show, do the ethics of distinguishing between advertising and editorial apply?
Is it a product placement advertising series or a programmed entertainment with a special sponsorship? StinkyJournalism has written Samsung and NBC to find out.
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YH Lee, Samsung’s senior vice president of mobile communications business, called the relationship between his company and NBC a “partnership” and “the start of a long-term relationship with our shared audiences,” according to Broadcasting & Cable.
Is there a firewall between entertainment and advertising like there should be between advertising and editorial?
The program is touted as the “first globally distributed digital series,” Media Daily News reported. The show is available online, through video on demand and iTunes. It also will be broadcast through Syfy in the UK, Australia and Asia. Three episodes are online now.
The series is a spin-off from a 9-minute short movie of the same name starring Bill Murray. The 2007 short also follows fact checkers at Dictum as they attempt to fact check whether Bill Murray falls asleep after drinking warm milk.
Media Post reported that Fact Checkers Unit is different from other series because the seven previous digital series NBC has released have been only available in the U.S.