New York -- USA Network founder Kay Koplovitz suggested Monday that media
consolidation may end up stifling creativity in the television industry.
"Consolidation in and of itself isn’t necessarily bad," Koplovitz, now a
principal of Koplovitz & Co., said during a luncheon panel here conducted by
the Radio & Television Research Council. "[But] from a creative point of
view, I get concerned."
Koplovitz said the real danger is that it will be harder "for the bright idea
to surface within consolidated companies that have a lot of other balancing
factors that they’re trying to weigh," like paying greater attention to the
bottom line or trying to create more efficiencies at the merged entity.
"You really need to have new ideas on the plate," she said,
Koplovitz added that it also becomes harder for "fresh producers" and other
talent to get access to the consolidated media companies. It’s tough to get
"brand-new people on the playing field," she said.
USA is one of the cable assets Vivendi Universal is selling to General
Electric Co.’s NBC in a deal that represents the most recent example of merger
mania in the media.
The RTRC panel, called "Now Let Me Tell You What I Really Think," consisted
of executives who had left corporate jobs, like Koplovitz; Barry Cook, ex-chief
research officer at Nielsen Media Research; and Dave Bender, former president of
Mediamark Research Inc.
A fourth panelist, Bruce Goerlich, president of Insights, Accountability and
Eyeballs Inc., maintained that media consolidation had hurt consumers. He argued
that when networks like ABC keep distribution and production in-house, it
results in TV shows that don’t really appeal to viewers.
So media mergers may help the bottom line, "but end up weakening your
products," he said. As a result, he added, "a backlash of disaggregation" may
During the panel, Koplovitz also said she was surprised at "the legs," the
longevity of popularity that reality programming was enjoying. She said the
programming essentially has become like "sporting events" for younger