FORMER FOX EXEC'S VENTURE LANDS AD SALES FOR WB, CBS

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When Diane Seaman walked away from the No. 2 sales position at Fox last year, a lot of people were speculating about why. They figured either something was wrong at Fox or Ms. Seaman had lined up a high-power position at a rival network-possibly one being launched by Paramount Communications or Warner Bros.

The latter theory seemed like an especially good one, because Jamie Kellner, Ms. Seaman's former boss and close associate at Fox, had just signed on as a managing partner at Warner's WB Network.

Well, Ms. Seaman is working with Mr. Kellner again, but not in the way most envisioned.

Recently, Ms. Seaman launched Markham Media, New York, with Beverly Weinstein, former VP-sales at Whittle Communications, to handle sales and marketing for TV companies seeking to outsource all or part of their ad sales.

And one of Markham's first clients is WB Network. What makes Markham unique, however, is that it's also handling sales for an established network.

Recently, CBS decided to outsource sales representation for its entire late-late-night news daypart, called "Up to the Minute," to Markham. And not long after that, Mr. Kellner hired Markham to assist on the sales for WB's January debut. Both networks seem content with the relationship, despite potential conflicts.

"They're handling different dayparts. It's different money," Mr. Kellner said. "What we and CBS are both doing is tapping into the experiences of people we value and trust very much."

Joe Abruzzese, exec VP-sales of CBS, agreed. "Right now, [conflict] is not much of a factor, but if it turns out that way, we can always pull back."

WB has retained Markham only through the launch period, Mr. Kellner said. The network plans to hire a permanent ad sales staff later this year, when WB will evaluate whether there is a continuing role for Markham.

Mr. Kellner is WB's point person with advertisers and agencies, but Markham is assisting on negotiations. He admitted WB currently is not much of threat for CBS.

"As far as the network marketplace is concerned, we don't exist. We're not even a factor this year," he said, but noted WB should have strong sales during its first upfront, due to wrap up in about another week.

Mr. Abruzzese, meanwhile, is outsourcing "Up to the Minute" because he felt the daypart is "too small" to tie up the resources of CBS' sales staffers.

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