The Buzz

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With costs skyrocketing, TV networks are increasingly relying on sibling production arms to develop shows. Are execs making programming choices based on the bottom-line as much as on what viewers want? Ultimately, advertisers could be affected if viewers shy away. Of the 38 new shows the six broadcast nets have on fall skeds, the conglomerate that owns the network (say a News Corp.) also either owns outright, or is involved with, the production of more than 70%. "Part of the reality of doing business these days is everybody's in-house production has increased dramatically," says NBC Jeff Zucker.

NBC reversed course on taking ads from Diageo, but the spirits marketer is managing to get on TV. An ad for its Jose Cuervo tequila unexpectedly appeared behind the batter on an ESPN2 Texas-Minnesota baseball game. A rep for the Texas Rangers said it was a mistake since ads sold locally like Cuervo are not supposed to run nationally. Family-oriented Walt Disney Co., the ESPN owner, doesn't take hard-liquor ads. ESPN had no comment and Cuervo swatted calls to ESPN. Meanwhile, Outdoor Life Network is running "social responsibility" ads for the Smirnoff brand during a three-week Italian bike race, some even in the a.m. due to the time difference with the live event. OLN says it has received no complaints.

contributing: wayne friedman and hillary chura

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