The website Bitter Lemons now allows theaters to pay to be reviewed. You can get an overview on the commentary in the LA Times. Speaking for the ATCA excom, chair Bill Hirschman has said:
“The American Theatre Critics’ Association, the only national organization of professional theater critics, is concerned with the model started by Bitter Lemons. While it does not guarantee a favorable review or allow theater companies to choose the reviewer, this pay-for-play arrangement creates a clear appearance of a conflict of interest. That appearance, even if spurious, undermines the crucial credibility of not only Bitter Lemons’ critics, but all critics.
“Our profession has fought for decades to preserve the image of independence. When our work is put out for sale to those we cover, we are concerned not just for the criticism itself but for the bypassing of editorial judgment in deciding what and what not to cover.”
Follow the active responses @Theatre_Critics (orange section, left-hand column).