LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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TiVo fears overstated

I doubt that TiVo is any more of a threat to advertiser-supported TV than the VCR was (is) ("Smart marketers embrace personal video recorders," Viewpoint, June 24).

When Sony introduced the BetaMax in 1975, dire prophecies about viewers' ability to time-shift programming and eliminate TV commercials were made. The reality was few users of VCRs have the technological capability to manipulate the timer mechanisms or even tape shows manually for later viewing.

TiVo and its competitors are even more complex to operate than VCRs, so the likelihood of a significant number of viewers of ad-supported TV shows acquiring this expensive mechanism in the foreseeable future is remote.

With the advent of digital cable TV, the custom of viewers surfing hundreds of channels as a form of ad avoidance should be a matter of far greater concern for advertisers than TiVo. Also of greater concern should be the dwindling audience for traditional TV shows as alternative forms of electronic diversion (the Internet, etc.) are introduced and embraced by the younger demographics.

Eugene Secunda

Adjunct Professor

Marketing and Media Studies

New York University

New York

Why backers support NYC home for NARC

I'd like to give you the real story behind the decision to keep the National Advertising Review Council in New York ("NARC to stay in New York but ad execs' worries remain," Viewpoint, AA, June 17).

It's about people: 15 excellent and dedicated lawyers and paralegals who work and live in New York. These are the people who staff NARC and its investigative bodies, the National Advertising Division (NAD) and Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU).

In a survey of the important voices in self-regulation, from advertisers to government agencies, there was no interest in making a move that would risk losing these people, who are responsible for self-regulation's success.

A leading advertiser said: "The most important ingredient of any organization is its people. In this case, especially, the people are the organization." From a founder of self-regulation: "Ad review is a highly specialized field involving keen perceptions, delicate negotiations and artful diplomacy. These are skills to be nurtured and coveted for, like a good wine, they improve with age." In the words of the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission, our system "... continues to be the model for American industry. It's the crown jewel."

The NARC partners- the Association of National Advertisers, the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the American Advertising Federation and the Council of Better Business Bureaus-are dedicated to self-regulation. They are committed to working together to involve all who benefit from advertising, and to help raise the financial support we need to relocate in New York [to new space from existing New York offices]. They are in total agreement about supporting the institution and its people.

NARC will continue to support the ad industry-minimizing government involvement, creating a level playing field for advertisers and insuring the public trust. It deserves the industry's support in return.

Jim Guthrie

President

National Advertising Review Council

New York

Calif. ignored facts in ad case: RJR

A recent California court ruling on cigarette advertising in magazines that are read predominantly by adults might be politically correct. But it disregarded the facts, the law, the First Amendment and the relevant provisions of the Master Settlement Agreement between the states and cigarette manufacturers ("RJR decision causes precedent concerns," AA, June 10).

The state of California did not produce any evidence that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. "targets" minors, nor did the state contend that the company intends to target youth with or expose youth to cigarette advertising.

In fact, RJR's stringent magazine-placement policy is stricter than the "best practices" cited by the Federal Trade Commission for advertising alcoholic beverages. We advertise only in magazines with a minimum of 75% adult readership, whereas the FTC applauds a 60% to 70% legal-age audience for alcohol ads.

According to the California court, the magazines that are now "too youthful" for RJR's cigarette ads are still acceptable forums to advertise wine, beer and liquor, violent and graphic movies and other tobacco companies' cigarette brands.

The Master Settlement Agreement established a clear set of rules and enforcement for advertising and marketing cigarettes to adults. This decision had nothing to do with kids and everything to do with the California attorney general's desire to expand the MSA and censor, if not ban, legal marketing to adult smokers.

Justice is supposed to be blind. In this case, the California attorney general has handcuffed it with political correctness.

Tommy J. Payne

Exec VP-External Relations

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

Winston-Salem, N.C.

Corrections

* In `"Minority Report' stars Lexus, Nokia" (June 17, P. 41), it was incorrectly stated that ad agency 3 Ring Circus, Los Angeles, split into two agencies in April. Several members of 3 Ring Circus went on to form two separate agencies (TAG, Los Angeles, and Concrete Pictures, Philadelphia and Los Angeles) but 3 Ring Circus did not split into two agencies and still operates under the 3 Ring Circus name.

* In "Unilever cedes laundry war," [May 27, P. 1], it was incorrectly reported that Unilever would downsize package sizes of laundry detergents All, Surf and Wisk. Unilever, which declined to comment when the story was prepared, told analysts last week that only the most popular size of Wisk would be downsized (by 20%, with its price cut 10%).

* In "Ad groups: Web Law could `kill commerce'" (May 27, P. 1), Minnesota State Rep. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, was misidentified as a Democrat.

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