It is reported that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will donate $1.5 million to help fund a year-long series on health issues affecting developing nations. The unusual unison has raised alarm bells for journalism watchdogs, but others contend that agreement may simply be a sign of things to come for news organizations, even for for-profit conglomerations like Disney.
ABC News announced on Wednesday that the deal had been struck to subsidize the international health series, to the tune of $1.5 million; ABC News up putting up the remaining $4.5 million to cover the total cost of the series. The series, called "Be the Change: Save a Life" will run on all of the network’s news platforms, starting December 17 of 2010 and running throughout 2011.
This is thought to be the first major donating from a not-for-profit to a for-profit TV station, although smaller contributions have previously been accepted from the Carnegie Foundation and ProPublica. Outgoing ABC chief David Westin maintains that the ABC retains complete editorial control over the content of the series and that the network was "as always, committed to in-depth reporting on the global issues that matter to our audience."
Westin further clarified that the donation was more like a sole sponsorship, or
advertising. The news of the donations comes on the back of more budget cuts
for the ABC, which is set to loose around 300 jobs this year through layoffs,
buyouts or attrition.
Westin said that the funding will be used to help make the series international by supporting foreign travel costs.