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The selection of Joe Ostrow as president-CEO signals a new era at the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau.

Mr. Ostrow, 61, exec VP-worldwide media director at Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, was probably the last great agency media director of his generation.

His move to CAB effective Aug. 29 after nearly 40 years in the agency business underscores a major change for the agency media business.

Since the search for a new president-CEO began in the spring, the CAB said it hoped to tap a high-profile executive from outside the cable industry, preferably a senior advertiser or agency media executive.

The list of candidates read like a who's who of the business. But several top executives, including Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising exec VP Betsy Frank, rejected the offer, despite a lucrative compensation plan. Mr. Ostrow's annual package is estimated at $500,000.

"I have put my time in on the agency side and I want to see if I can make a difference elsewhere," Mr. Ostrow said. "This is a very exciting industry. It's where all the action is right now in media."

He was one of the first truly global media directors, establishing a group to oversee the quality of agency media work from market to market worldwide.

On the leading edge of media department automation, Mr. Ostrow convinced the company to invest heavily in computer technology. He also has been a staunch advocate, along with the CAB, of the move to electronic data interchange between agencies and the media.

The CAB's belief is that such a system will make cable easier to buy and should increase the medium's share of ad budgets.

"It's not a question of getting dollar growth. It's a question of capturing a larger share," Mr. Ostrow said.

According to Advertising Age's 1994 Agency Report, FCB placed about $127 million in cable TV in 1993, making it the third largest cable agency behind Wells Rich Greene BDDP and Leo Burnett Co., respectively.

However, that investment represents less than 4.9% of FCB's $2.6 billion in U.S. media billings, suggesting Mr. Ostrow has his work cut out for him even at his old stomping grounds.

U.S. cable advertising spending this year is expected to total $2.85 billion, up 13.7% from 1993, according to Veronis, Suhler & Associates. Cable's share of ad-supported TV is projected to be 8.7%, up one-half point from 1993.

Since its inception in 1981, the CAB has been an insular trade group, run primarily by its founder and Vice Chairman Robert Alter.

Even after stepping aside in 1992 when Thomas McKinney was promoted to president-CEO, Mr. Alter maintained strong oversight of the group. Mr. McKinney left in the spring to become president-chief operating officer of the cable sales organization Rainbow Advertising Sales Corp., New York.

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