Association Backs Away from TV Project


Paradigm Media Group is moving ahead with its plan to spotlight lubricants on the small screen, but it will have to do so without help from the Independent Lubricant Manufacturers Association.

ILMA informed members Friday that it has backed away from a previous decision to help production house Paradigm develop content for a series of short educational programs to air on public television. The trade group said it became concerned about the possibility of appearing to endorse individual lube companies.

ILMA concluded that its role as content provider could be misconstrued as creating an advantage for one or a group of members, and the association did not want to be viewed as recommending specific marketing strategies to its membership, Executive Director Celeste M. Powers said in a message distributed by e-mail.

Powers said Paradigm concurred with the decision after determining that the association might not be sufficiently detached from underwriting companies to comply with rules aimed at keeping commercial advertisements off public television.

It was disheartening that they decided not to participate, but we understand the decision, Paradigm Senior Producer Phil Bell said Monday. But we are committed to the series and are moving forward on it. We are looking for others to fill the role that [ILMA] would have played.

Based in Boca Raton, Fla., Paradigm produces short documentaries for public television, referred to as interstitial because they run between full-length programs, filling gaps left by the fact that public television stations do not air commercials. The programs on lubricants will be part of a series, Learning About, that is hosted by movie star Michael Douglas.

ILMA initially expressed enthusiasm about the public relations opportunity presented by the project, announcing in March that it had agreed to help identify topics, review scripts and provide on-air interviews. On April 14, however, the association stated that it was putting such activities on hold and advised members not to take part in the project until it performed additional due diligence on the producers and the representations that have been made to us….

Fridays statement was more amenable, saying the association and Paradigm had mutually and amicably decided to end their discussions. The associations concerns appeared to stem at least in part from more commercial segments that Paradigm produces to help secure funding for its documentaries. Public television stations that air the programs do not pay for them, Bell said. Instead, costs are underwritten by companies that appear in them. To help attract underwriters, Paradigm also makes more commercial versions of the documentaries – Bell insists they are still more educational than infomercials – and promises to get them aired on commercial stations. It also provides video that underwriters may use in promotions – for example, at trade shows.

ILMA and Paradigm officials said the association worried that any support it leant to the documentaries could leak over into the more commercial parts of the project.

Bell said Paradigm has lined up several underwriters, including Ergon, Citgo and ChevronTexaco, but is still seeking others. The production house is also seeking industry experts to fill the role that ILMA would have played of unbiased commentator.

Bell said he expects the programs on lubricants to begin airing on public television stations across the country beginning around October.

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