Local TV Creates First Open Electronic Trading System

By 2008, Aims to Reduce Paper Faxes and Mistakes

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Television Bureau of Advertising, an industry advocate for local TV, is set to build a multimillion-dollar electronic system to enable media agencies to buy airtime without the need for smudgy faxes and file cabinets full of paper invoices.
Chris Rohrs
Chris Rohrs

Lost faxes
Agencies have complained for years about discrepancies and coding errors and flights of ads that didn't run because fax orders got lost or were unreadable. The bureau has enlisted the National Association of Broadcasters to help fund the venture to the tune of "multimillions of dollars." The new open-standard electronic transaction service is aimed at drastically reducing the number of man hours spent on rectifying problems with orders. The hope is that by making it easier to buy local TV more ad dollars will flow there.

"To grow our core business we have to make the process as easy as possible and look beyond our core business of spot TV," said Television Bureau President Chris Rohrs said. Local TV is experiencing a boom in revenue thanks to heavy political spending that's been in play since the midterm elections last November. And political spending has been showing up much earlier than its customary even-year election cycle -- especially now, during what is expected to be a hotly contested primary season in '08.

During the third quarter of 2006, local broadcast TV ad revenue was up 10.4%, network TV was down 0.6% and syndicated TV was down 1.4%. The top ad spenders in local TV during the third quarter were DaimlerChrysler, General Motors Corp.'s dealers association and Ford Motor Co.'s dealers group, according to the Television Bureau's analysis of TNS Media Intelligence data.

10-year discussion
An electronic system has been discussed for about 10 years, said Television Bureau executives, and gained some real momentum in 2004 when local broadcasters began the realize the potential of their local markets beyond TV. The new system, called TVB ePort, will accommodate buys for TV, video on demand and wireless marketing as well as digital channels and website advertising. A technology provider for the service is still to be named.

Abby Auerbach, exec-VP, Television Bureau, said the system would automate everything, except the negotiation, which would still occur between the parties. The system will log times, traffic instructions and web orders electronically.

The bureau announced the initiative today at a press conference attended led by Mr. Rohrs and Meredith Broadcasting President Paul Karpowicz, who is the current Television Bureau chairman.
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