The Buzz

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Media buyers say only a handful of cable networks are "must-buys," thus increasing the pressure on the rest. A&E is one particularly stung as its ratings have dropped. The most recent upfront brought cost-per-thousand pricing drops of slightly less than 5% on top of a steep plunge last year and flat revenue, A&E said. "I think when USA and then Lifetime went out the way they did [cutting prices] I stopped thinking I'd get a break," said net Exec VP Whitney Goit. Last week, head of programming Allen Sabinson was on his way out. "A mutual parting of the ways," is how an A&E spokesman described it. Sabinson did not return calls.

The boss is changing his tune. Traditionally quiet in singing his own praises on the eve of album releases, Bruce Springsteen performed all over TV last week, from Letterman to "Nightline," to promote "The Rising." Is Ted Koppel trying to emulate the man ABC wanted to replace him with?

Pfizer is near a deal with Rodale's Prevention as the charter advertiser in the magazine's newly developed pamphlet that pulls out of the cover. In July, the monthly inserted a four-page pullout-sans ads-on medicinal foods. The Pfizer deal, estimated at $1 million to $1.5 million, would cover ads in the pullout for the first six months of 2003, people familiar with the deal say. The size can be up to eight pages. Prevention and Pfizer declined to comment.

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