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Paid obituaries, the new reality TV ads

Screen shot 2009-10-20 at 11.37.09 AM Since September, the local CBS affiliate in Saginaw, Mich., has been generating advertising revenue from a new source — obituaries.

When three of four daily newspapers in the region reduced publication to three days a week, station WNEM stepped in to fill the void, reports Advertising Age.

For $100, the station runs a photograph and name of the departed on the air, then publishes a more traditional paid obituary notice on So far, the station has more than 700 obituaries in its system.

The names of people who’ve passed away are broadcast during the station’s local morning and noon shows Monday through Friday, as well as on weekend morning shows.

Station owner Meredith Corp. plans to expand the concept to other TV stations.

Why not just skip TV altogether and post the obits exclusively online? According to an Ad Age source, the natural audience for such announcements — the elderly — are less likely to have access to a computer.

-- Valerie J. Nelson

Photo: Screen shot of the website taken Tuesday morning.

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