ANCHORMAN'S SLAYING POINTS TO AD SCANDAL

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MOSCOW-In the two months since Russian TV anchorman Vladislav Listyev was killed, two things have disappeared from the airwaves of the network President Boris Yeltsin named him to head.

The first thing to disappear was reports indicating investigators are close to finding his killers. The second thing is advertising on Russian Public Television.

After showing initial enthusiasm for finding Mr. Listyev's killers that his popularity demanded, overworked lawmen have quieted down about the case.

Investigators indicated shortly after the apparent contract killing that Mr. Listyev, Russian Public Television's executive director, fell victim to a battle for the lucrative right to wholesale media on Russia's largest TV station and that they were concentrating their investigation on the ad industry.

As the search for the killers drags on, so does the moratorium on advertising at Russian Public Television, the 49% privately held company that took over the Channel One airwaves from state-run Ostankino April 1 as planned. That move went through despite lawmakers' bids to reverse the partial privatization of the network.

Mr. Listyev was killed shortly after Russian Public Television officials announced the April 1 halt on "irritating" advertising. But the halt was immediately understood as a bid to seize media wholesaling at the network from middlemen companies.

Russian Public Television went ahead with the moratorium despite the tragedy, trading ads for a mix of new-fangled computer graphics and still photographs of snow-draped woods, the Kremlin and the Ostankino TV tower that dominated screens between shows during the Soviet era.

Advertising executives say they have suffered little from the ban because a soft market in the first quarter of this year after Russia's big advertising boom prevented other networks from taking advantage of the ban by raising prices.

Bruce Macdonald, director general of BBDO Marketing here, said that while TV rate card prices have remained more or less stationary in recent months, the media wholesalers have deepened the discounts that determine the real price of airtime for advertisers. He predicted by early May there could be actual cuts in rate card prices.

But while a dry period for advertising in Russia-partially fueled by the collapse of several Russian investment companies-may have taken some of the wind out of the sails of media wholesalers, Russian and Western executives said the middelman system will remain in place at Russian Public Television, as it has on other networks.

"I think we will find some form of media wholesaler or media wholesaling organization playing the same or a similar role" as before Mr. Listyev's killing, Mr. Macdonald said of Russian Public Television.

Network officials have said the halt on advertising would last three months, through July 1, but local ad agency officials maintain that date is not firm and that the ban could last through the summer.

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