Discovery's $40 million media acc't up for grabs

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Discovery Networks, citing a "changing media landscape," placed its $40 million media account up for review after more than a decade at the same shop.

Meanwhile, another leading media company, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, is contemplating a review of its $50 million media account. And one executive close to the studio said it's possible Fox will proceed with a full-blown media consolidation that could affect $200 million to $300 million in billings.

A spokeswoman confirmed the Discovery review, saying the company is working with consultant Don Evanson of Marketing & Media Insights, Secausus, N.J.


Longtime Discovery media buyer DeWitt Media, New York, is in the hunt, as is DDB Needham Worldwide's Optimum Media unit and sibling Omnicom Group shop Creative Media, according to executives familiar with the review. Western International Media, New York, may also be a contender, the executive said.

The Discovery spokeswoman declined to say who is in the review, and executives at the shops declined comment.

"We are still very happy with DeWitt," the spokeswoman said. "However, with the changing media landscape and the growth we've had we want to explore what is out there."

Bethesda, Md.-based Discovery Networks consists of the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, Animal Planet, Travel Channel, Discovery People and six smaller digital-only channels, including Discovery Health Channel, which the company plans to build into a major network. Discovery also markets BBC America.

The media company, which has a reputation as a savvy marketer, handles most of its creative work in-house.


On the opposite coast, word in Los Angeles is that Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, currently handled by Focus Media, Santa Monica, Calif, is weighing a review.

"I think they are considering a number of options, including just bringing it in-house like the movie studio does for its national TV buying," said one executive familiar with the situation.

Another executive close to Fox said there may be more at stake: "There is discussion, at the highest levels of the company, that there should be a media consolidation of all the Fox buying. One option could be to bring it all in-house, or hire one outside shop."

Besides Focus, J. Walter Thompson USA, Los Angeles, handles the spot buying for Fox and several Fox kids' media accounts. Creative is handled by a variety of boutique agencies.

"We are constantly reassessing our approach to the business," said a spokesman for Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, who declined further comment. Focus officials had no comment.M

Contributing: Wayne Friedman, Alice Z. Cuneo

Copyright February 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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