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National tv advertisers inclined to ignore the trouble between the big broadcast networks and their local affiliated stations should now have been jarred awake. This month ABC and Fox stunned the stations with actions that bluntly put network financial interests first over those of their station partners. Outraged affiliates then threatened preemptions of network schedules and other possible actions.

This need not be self-destructive. If both sides retreat from open warfare, the aggressive network actions may further the difficult, but necessary, reform of the financial basis for the network/affiliate system.

Mass appeal, hit programming defines the broadcast networks in the TV system. To continue as a mass medium among smaller rivals, it will take big money to get and promote the kind of programs that reach across narrow interest lines. That means reallocating the financial resources jointly available to networks and affiliates.

The blowup this month left advertisers to contemplate the possibility of network schedules rocked by affiliate preemptions or a surge in affiliation switches-hardly a recipe for smooth media planning. ABC's planned soap opera cable TV network featuring-on a same-day basis-the same episodes that appear on its local affiliates adds uncertainty to ratings projections. Fox's move to take back 22% of the ad time now sold by its affiliates affects who controls what ad availabilities.

Cooler heads must structure new financial links between networks and stations. Advertisers can best serve this process by making it clear they will reward TV ad sellers that offer stable environments and penalize those that cannot agree on an orderly transition from what once worked well to something more suited for

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