CAB Sets Affil Promo Committee

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The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau has formed a new seven-member MSO committee that will hold its first formal meeting next month, at the organization's New York headquarters.

Born from a contentious CAB meeting last spring, the committee is designed to improve dealings between networks and affiliates with respect to promotional tie-ins and other marketing-related matters.

Co-chaired by Adelphia Media Services director of marketing and promotions Scott Pesner and Comcast Corp. senior director of marketing and promotions Kellie Grutko, the committee plans to meet personally every quarter, with the first conclave set for Dec. 3.

"It was their idea," said CAB vice president of local sales and marketing Kevin Barry, who noted that the group has held two telephone conference calls since it was established in August — including one two weeks ago.

Barry and Pesner acknowledged that the committee grew out of a rather heated session at last spring's CAB Local Cable Sales Management Conference in Orlando, Fla.

Explaining his rationale for giving the committee the go-ahead, Barry recalled that research spawned its own committee a decade ago or so, when the discipline became more important at the MSO and cable-operator levels. Similarly, the affiliate marketing and promotion arena has grown in stature of late.

It's also become increasingly apparent that "the management of the flow of [such] information has become important," Barry added.

Besides the co-chairs, the new CAB committee members are: Doug Smoller of Los Angeles interconnect Adlink; Nancy Nalvin of Time Warner CityCable; Bobbi Hurt, Cox Communications Inc.; Patty Bullington, AT&T Broadband; and Lori Greenwood, National Cable Communications.

The committee's meeting coincides with a meeting of the CAB's network-affiliate ad-sales committee. That panel is chaired by Lifetime Television vice president of affiliate ad sales and distribution marketing David McFarland.

The two bodies will meet jointly for part of that day to "discuss ways to work together more effectively," Barry explained.

Pesner — who until about a year ago worked on the CAB's OnDemand Web site — Grutko and McFarland were panelists at a seminar examining such issues at last May's CAB conference.

The session sparked some disagreement and tension between the operator and network camps. Operators on the panel — and in the audience — said that networks needed to learn more about operators' local needs, and keep them abreast of programming changes.

One of Grutko's proposals called for each network to limit its number of joint promotions to perhaps "three core promotions [per year], and do them well."

Programmers both on stage and in the audience countered that operators needed to provide more feedback on promo tie-in successes and failures and the like — including dollar figures, whenever possible. But some operators said that corporate policy precluded their supplying such details.

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