THE NEW GIANTS

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Last week was historic for the broadcast industry, with two major broadcast networks announcing changes of ownership and their executives promising great things for viewers and stockholders.

Since the networks derive most of their income from advertising sales, we're interested in what this will eventually mean for the ad community.

Westinghouse's planned takeover of CBS should pump some new life into the No. 3 TV network, strengthening its lineup of owned and affiliated stations. Westinghouse Chairman Michael H. Jordan called the combination a "broadcasting powerhouse" and vowed to "restore CBS Television to its historic position as the No. 1 TV network." Advertisers will benefit from a more competitive, innovative CBS.

Also attractive to advertisers are some of the ramifications in the Disney merger with Cap Cities/ABC, especially the likelihood of one-stop shopping for synergistic media/promotion buys. Most marketers and their agencies still have a long way to go in integrating media and non-media marketing efforts, and enticing offers from this new conglomerate would help. Disney also can enhance the programming for ABC, especially in children's time slots, providing a better environment for advertisers.

On the minus side: Will the advertiser with a modest buy on ABC be pushed aside in favor of a marketer willing to buy network time and a magazine schedule built around a sweepstakes promotion that includes free Disney cruises? Will infomercial makers be advised what production company to use in order to assure clearances? The experience of Fox, the network already part of a media conglomerate and affiliated with a Hollywood studio, so far would allay such fears.

So let the new owners wow Wall Street today, and paint rosy scenarios for the future. But advertisers and the billions they spend on the networks should also command a lot of attention. They will have to be shown that the new Disney and new Westinghouse are not only bigger but better.

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