LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

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True cost of strike

In "Oh! Canada" (Aug. 21, P. 1), the Joint Policy Committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and Association of National Advertisers offers figures damaging to the actors' unions. These figures also reveal the damages to advertisers of the JPC's determination to replace actors' residuals with flat-fee buyouts.

The JPC points out session fees (union and non-union) totaled $3,800,375 in July 1999. This aggregate figure in 2000 is $3,733,282, or 85% of 1999 production. Adjusted to full production, advertisers would have spent $4,392,096 for the same ad production as in 1999. Include the notion that celebrities were more widely used in 1999 and it's clear non-union talent is costing advertisers money.

Furthermore, advertisers that buy fewer than 40 network airings per commercial every 13 weeks will be interested to know the JPC's flat-fee scheme will cost more for reuse of actors' performances. Only those few that can afford large network buys will realize savings. The majority, therefore, are being co-opted by the JPC's tyranny of the minority.

In the instance of cable reuse, the JPC's insistence on a flat-fee structure refuses to address the actors' core premise: that compensation to the actor should be reflective of value to the advertiser. Again, the advertisers that cannot command huge cable buys will subsidize the companies that can afford to inundate the cable environment by being forced to pay up to the flat-fee minimums.

Chas Cowing

President, Access Talent

New York

Off base on TV Guide

Scott Donaton's column " `TV Guide' magazine is fading, and that's fine with Joe Kiener" (Viewpoint, AA, Sept. 4) created a grossly misleading picture of the state of TV Guide and the company's "mature" brands.

TV Guide still remains the largest selling weekly publication in not only this country but also the world. Ad revenues are healthy and the advertising industry recognizes the publication as the most mass way of reaching TV viewers.

Our cross-platform ad sales group sells a healthy percentage of packages across all the TV Guide-branded platforms and will continue to educate the industry on the multiple ways advertisers can reach consumers in specialized and highly effective ways through our products.

Contrary to Scott's "not so bold" prediction, the timetable for the shift in content from listings combined with valuable editorial to just programming highlights, editors' picks and celebrity profiles is way off in the distant future.

The facts are as follows: TV Guide the brand, over the last two years, has dramatically expanded its landscape to include multiple media platforms on which consumers get TV information and programming. These platforms include a group of magazines, the TV Guide Channel, Interactive Program Guides in digital set-top boxes and TV sets as well as Web site businesses . . .

The reality of the TV-viewing public is many people will continue to love highlighting and earmarking their weekly magazines. The brand has seen a net increase in total audience over the last two years to almost three times the total number of magazine readers at its historical pinnacle. That speaks to a smart shift and brand expansion strategy conceived to reach a TV viewing population with ever expanding needs.

The TV Guide brand now includes a healthy Web site (ranked one of the top entertainment sites on the Web today), a popular channel that beats E!, ESPN2, CNN and CNBC in primetime ratings among adults 18-49 (with a 20% increase in ratings since it became TV Guide Channel versus Prevue and a 46% growth in ad revenues over the first half of 2000 versus the first half of '99) and the emerging Interactive Programming Guide, which as accurately represented in his column, is a huge opportunity for programmers and advertisers to reach a captured audience multiple times throughout the day on the TV screen . . .

In the same way the American population discovered TV back in the 1950s, today they are discovering the power of choice. TV Guide is ready for this -- with all the brand platforms working together to present the most comprehensive guidance experience for consumers and the most highly valued way to reach this audience. Indeed, the TV landscape in changing. That's just fine with us.

Joe Kiener

Co-President, Co-Chief Operating Officer

Gemstar-TV Guide International

New York

Corrections

* In "Philip Morris coverup: No-smoke ads hit books," (Sept. 4, P. 12) it was incorrectly stated that Philip Morris USA declined comment. Starcom USA, Chicago, which handles media buying for Philip Morris USA, was the company contacted for comment. Philip Morris representatives were not contacted.

* In the table "Top 30 media acquisitions" (Aug. 21, P. S16), CNET Networks was incorrectly listed as having acquired Ziff Davis Media. CNET acquired Ziff-Davis Inc. and its ZDNET.

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