NBC Network President Neil Braun, in association with the network affiliate board, has formed a committee to find a way to implement the strategy so it will work for both.
"It's a sensitive issue," said Doug Adams, president-general manager of Lin Broadcasting's KXAS-TV in Dallas, and chairman of the committee, "but we're going to see if we can come up with a workable plan."
FEARING TARGETED ADS
According to a number of affiliate executives, stations feel that the more targeted advertising a national marketer does with the network, the less money that marketer will spend with the affiliates.
The issue became a major one a few years ago when affiliates said McDonald's Corp. had cut some of its spot TV in favor of running sectional schedules via the networks. In the past year, however, affiliates and station reps have said the use of regionals and sectionals is minimal and doesn't seem to have necessarily hurt their business.
With current technology, the networks can target specific commercials to every market in the country. One executive said that NBC in particular has technology that is "very, very sophisticated."
Mr. Braun said he's looking to form "a new business opportunity for both the network and the affiliates." He declined to state specifics, saying that he hoped a plan would evolve through the committee.
Mr. Adams also declined to discuss specifics. He said he will ask various affiliate executives to sit on the committee.
DISPLEASED WITH NBC
Not everyone is pleased with NBC for broaching the issue.
Jim Beloyianis, president of Katz Television Group, said he would likely discuss the matter with his station clients. "I don't think this is necessarily good for the local stations," he said.
Furthermore, he noted, if NBC develops a workable plan, it's likely ABC, CBS and perhaps Fox would adopt a similar concept.
One ad agency executive thought NBC was smart for trying to develop the strategy.
"For one, they're looking to increase their share of ad dollars in an increasingly fractionalized market," he said. "Second, you look at the deal Disney [owner of ABC] did with McDonald's, and that's not the kind of marketing partnership NBC can bring to the table. . . . So whatever NBC can do to increase its attractiveness to marketers is going to be a plus."