What Everyone Is Talking About Today

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Talk about a do-it-yourself kind of guy. Famed investigative reporter Lowell Bergman made a pitch to advertisers at the Association of National Advertisers’ TV Ad Forum event yesterday, asking them to support the Discovery Times channel, which is carrying his two-hour history on eavesdropping called “Someone’s Watching.” The special airs this month.
One movie that made professional listeners infamous was "The Conversation" starring Gene Hackman. This month, Discovery Times will air a documentary on the history of eavesdropping, titled "Someone's Watching."

“I’ve never been allowed so close to a group of advertisers,” he joked as he discussed eavesdropping as part of corporate espionage and government surveillance. Mr. Bergman’s lunchtime pitch had the advertising crowd enraptured with tales of companies, including Pfizer (one of the most active members of the ANA), that had listened in on their competitors decades ago, and of John Jacob Astor, who had snooped on his wife.

The documentary features Sam Dash, the former chief Watergate counsel, and looks at how the issue of eavesdropping has come full circle after The New York Times revealed the U.S. government secretly tapped American citizens. “This is an issue that requires your support as advertisers. We can’t do it unless someone pays for it. You are the key,” he said.

Mr. Bergman, a former CBS News executive, is credited with exposing unscrupulous behavior by the tobacco industry and was played by Al Pacino in the movie “The Insider.”

Asked for his thoughts on the state of network news, Mr. Bergman said, “The economics are key. There are many things that make news [today] that many of us would not have recognized as news.” He continued that broadcast news programming would continue to migrate to the Web. Mr. Bergman confessed, however, that he doesn’t read blogs or listen to podcasts, “It’s all part of the firehose of information. I look for some way to understand the information.” He suggested that bloggers would become less and less influential as time passes.

Mr. Bergman steered clear of a question on the rise of product placement in TV shows and said there would never been much call for it in the type of shows he produced. As the lunch wrapped up, Kaki Hinton, VP-advertising services at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, seated at the table with Mr. Bergman, teased him for not mentioning a Pfizer brand on the dais, Listerine’s Pocketpaks, but then remembered he’d given Pfizer a shout-out after all: for corporate espionage.

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