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Networks face challenge

In her opinion piece (AA, Feb. 20), Marcella Rosen stated that ABC, CBS and NBC, "being among the best-known brands in America today," will fit "in the express lane" of the information and entertainment superhighway "with the open road ahead."

As president-CEO of the Network Television Association, she would understandably want to make that case. But her premise is quite questionable considering that motion pictures, network radio and network television actually flourished in turn as they captured the public's imagination. What they had in common, and what network television still has, to a great but diminishing extent, is a date with the public.

In the '20s and '30s people went to the movies every week as a matter of course. .. Network radio changed our habits. Movie theaters even delayed starting their pictures until after the "Amos & Andy" program.

And in network television's formative years, Milton Berle, Lucille Ball and Jackie Gleason sold a lot of television sets.

With the new technology, movies had to modify their distribution methods, and radio had to leave the living room and change its product to become a round-the-clock universal medium. Program loyalty gave way to station loyalty as audiences learned to listen at any time instead of specific times.

I can't see Ms. Rosen's claim that "consumers have always been rather cool toward new technology." She also makes the point that in the U.S. "only about one out of four homes has a personal computer."

Perhaps so. But last year more computers than television sets were sold. So as more and more of the upcoming generation comes into hands-on contact with the electronic digital world, and sees that the touch of a key can get you exactly what you want precisely when you want it, the computer becomes the new medium.

Network television, with its rigidly structured program schedule, is in for a rude awakening if it hasn't heard the call already. ABC, CBS and NBC will have to change radically as movies and radio did, and as CNN and the fast growing number of alternative channels are forcing them to.

Paul Martin


Overlooked ad segment

In your special section on Promotional Marketing (AA, March 20) you once again failed to recognize the multibillion-dollar segment of the advertising industry known as promotional products (formerly advertising specialties).

Promotional products can and do complement other forms of advertising media, yet time and time again the "advertising industry" fails to give this important form of advertising any recognition. For the uninformed, promotional products are useful items, carrying an advertising message, distributed to the end-users without obligation on their part.

As a speaker for the Ambassadors Program of the Promotional Products Association International, I continually try to get this message through to college and university students by speaking to advertising classes.

It would be nice if eventually our industry would receive some form of recognition from your publication and others of similar nature.

Thomas K. Weller

President, Adverspecs


Barkley no racist

In the March 6 Brady's Bunch, Jim Brady wonders why Charles Barkley can say with impunity he hates white people, and the president of Rutgers gets attacked for some "half-baked" remarks about SATs.

Jim, lighten up! Nobody thinks Charles Barkley is a racist, least of all his white teammate and friend, Danny Ainge, who convinced him to play this season.

Furthermore, Sir Charles is not the president of a university. And he never said blacks (or whites) are genetically less smart.

If you can't see the difference between a basketball player who makes clear he's no role model and a university president who represents our highest aspirations, stick to reviews of media parties.

Gerry Schoenfeld

President, Schoenfeld,

Chapman & Pearl

Tarrytown, N.Y.

A lot of smarter folks

In response to James Brady's closing question to the masses, "Who would have thought a bunch of toothless Canadian hockey players were smarter than the Lords of America's "pastime"? (Brady's Bunch, AA, March 20).

I'd say approximately 26 million Canadians would have.

Jo-Anne Liburd

MPL Communications


Advertising Age welcomes letters to the editor, but we ask that they be held to no more than 250 words in length. The editors reserve the right to edit letters. Address letters to Advertising Age, Viewpoint Editor, 740 Rush St., Chicago 60611. Fax: (312) 649-5331. Letters can also be posted through the Ad Age Bulletin Board on Prodigy, or by Prodigy E-Mail at [email protected]

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