LET'S MAKE SHOWS AGAIN

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The popularity of the movie "Quiz Show" sent us to our files to see what we were writing when the TV quiz show scandal the film is based upon erupted in the late 1950s. Our editorials at the time urged advertisers and their agencies to get out of the TV show production business. Let the networks and their program suppliers "carry the headaches of show business," we stated.

In the ensuing years, advertiser control over individual TV shows did in fact practically disappear, though some advertisers have backed program consortiums such as Television Production Partners.

Fast forward to 1994. We have the face of television being reshaped by interactive technology and other marvels. Advertisers now are worried about being shut out entirely. At the urging of Procter & Gamble Co. boss Ed Artzt, a task force from agencies and advertisers will attempt to get a handle on where the TV industry is going, and to make sure advertiser-supported programming can continue as an integral part.

Continued advertising support makes a lot of sense. A major loss of free TV, shifting the costs to viewers, would slow if not stall the growth of interactive.

Today, we're urging advertisers and their agencies to bring not only money, but creative programming ideas and concepts. And not only to new media technologies, but to the TV scene of today.

In the years since the quiz scandals, the networks have not exactly refoliated the vast wasteland. They've lost viewers to cable, VCRs and other forms of entertainment, and have responded with sex-and-violence programing that has Congress threatening action. Advertisers who care about program content can contribute fresh ideas, free of the Hollywood plot factory mentality. Witness General Motors' "Baseball" now on PBS.

We urge the task force-the Coalition for Advertising-Supported Information and Entertainment-to consider today's TV scene as well as tomorrow's. Those 500 channel receivers are tomorrow; the TV programming for today is today's challenge.

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