Split Occurs Days Before Upfront Media Buying Begins

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Movie studio Miramax is parting ways with its media-buying agency, ZenithMedia Group, just days before the start of the upfront. The company is moving the account back to Santa Monica-based Palisades Media Group.

Palisades, an independently owned agency, had held the Miramax account for eight years before it moved to Publicis Groupe's ZenithMedia in April 2003. Palisades will oversee all of Miramax and Dimension Films media buying and planning.

The switch came as a surprise to ZenithMedia. The company's North American CEO, Rich Hamilton, said, "We wish Miramax well. The company's assessment of our performance has been very positive." Neither Miramax nor Palisades was immediately available for comment.

Miramax, part of the Walt Disney Co., spent $264 million in measured media in 2003, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Miramax is due to release the movie Hero in August, but has a full slate for fall, with movies starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lopez.

Movie studios are among the biggest buyers in the upfront broadcast TV buying period, when networks try to sell between 75% and 80% of their commercial airtime for the fall. Studios try to buy commercial airtime during critical Thursday night programs, to better promote their weekend movie debuts.

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