The Buzz

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In December, Walt Disney Co.'s ABC and WPP Group's MindShare joined in a programming partnership in which the media agency's advertisers will fund the development of prime-time shows for the network. Buzz has learned that MindShare first proposed the deal to General Electric's NBC, but negotiations broke down. "We passed on that one," Jeff Zucker told Ad Age at the time. "The timing wasn't right," an executive at MindShare recently explained. According to executives familiar with the aborted deal, the programming department wanted to partner with the media agency, but the ad sales side refused. Calls to NBC executives were not returned at press time.That raises an issue much discussed at the recent National Association of Television Program Executives conference in Las Vegas. In a panel sponsored by Ad Age's Madison + Vine, Ben Silverman, partner at Reveille productions, noted ad sales groups have pulled the plug on deals. "The creative divisions want as much original programming as they can get and want to offset as much of their production financing as possible. But ad sales units don't want other people in their business selling the ads." At another panel, Rich Frank, former chairman of Walt Disney Television and now a partner at Entertainment Partners, Beverly Hills, Calif., asked: "Who really green-lights new shows? Programming executives or ad sales groups?" (More NATPE coverage: QwikFIND aap30y)
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