The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s inaugural feature production for use as educational filler on public television affiliates aired more than 1,430 times over three months in late 2012. This is the first such segment featuring discussion of freethought, atheism and focusing on the specific dangers of mixing state and church.
The four-minute “Spotlight on Freethought and the First Amendment” featured interviews with FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. The longer version, over five minutes, included a bonus interview with “secularity” expert, sociologist and author Phil Zuckerman, professor at Pitzer University, Claremont, Calif. Local public TV affiliates were given the option to use either spot, or both, as fillers.
For the first time in the history of Spotlight Productions, more affiliates ran the longer version, “a compliment to Phil Zuckerman,” says Gaylor. The longer version aired 731 times in 136 station airings. The short version aired 699 times with 142 station airings.
The two shows each reached more than 3.6 million public TV viewers, according to the Nielsen ratings. Markets airing one or both of the spots included high population airings such as New York City and Los Angeles, as well as a diversity of smaller markets nationwide. In the Salt Lake City area, for instance, served by five area public TV affiliates including in Provo, FFRF’s spots ran 62 times last fall.
The broadcasts are audited by Nielsen only for the first 3 months after the show is released. But FFRF’s two “Spotlights” may continue to air for years as filler.
View the videos at FFRF’s YouTube Channel. The shorter “abridged” version is at bit.ly/WmTCP2.
The longer “TV” version with Zuckerman is at bit.ly/P8TZfT.
A “bonus track” version of nearly seven minutes, which includes additional footage with Dan Barker, is prominently featured at FFRF’s website, ffrf.org and at bit.ly/V7kan5.