Is Oklahoma's Marketing During the News OK?

To promote its state insurance program, Oklahoma is paying $3.1 million over three years to local media company Griffin Communications. Griffin's bid for the state contract touted its "built-in network of companies to deliver the message," including television stations KWTV in Oklahoma City and KOTV and KQCW in Tulsa, and the 34 stations of the Radio Oklahoma Network. The Insure Oklahoma campaign spokesperson is former KWTV reporter Angela Buckelew, who "appears during news programming" on KWTV, KOTV and KQCW. "The media spots aired as part of Griffin's marketing campaign blend seamlessly into the newscasts," reports Tulsa World, "with Buckelew acting as reporter and telling the individual stories of employees of small businesses who have benefited from the subsidized health insurance plan. After the stories, the news anchor typically reads a disclosure statement." Griffin Communications president and CEO David Griffin said, "We don't sell the news. ... I view this [campaign] as a community service." In addition to disclosure, the issue is "the number of walls they put between the newsroom and the other arm of the company doing the marketing," according to media law professor Joey Senat.