The top cable-sales-rep firms, Cable Networks Inc. and
National Cable Communications,
are keeping their ears open for word from A.H. Belo Corp.,
Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable on additional regional-news-network
The regional-news wars between those archrival reps, which
had intensified last fall, have been quiet of late. But they could heat up as new
Media companies have indicated that they have more
regional-news networks in development, without supplying any details, said Deborah
Cuffaro, CNI's senior vice president, and Steve Houck, NCC's vice president of
The latest announced network is Belo's Texas Cable
News, targeting 1.4 million-plus subscribers via Tele-Communications Inc. and Marcus Cable
Co. L.P., as of January. Belo said in May that the statewide entity will gather news in
association with TV-network affiliates in Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.
Asked about pitching that Belo business, the reps were
noncommittal. Houck said that "may be a little premature," while Cuffaro added,
"We're not discussing pitching that business at this point."
In CNI's hot streak late last year, the rep signed
NewsChannel 8 in Washington, D.C., and NorthWest Cable News in Seattle last fall, and it
then quietly landed Pittsburgh Cable News Channel in December. CNI snared all three from
NCC, which folded its stand-alone regional-news-network division into its spot-sales
operation last fall.
Craig Marrs, NorthWest's president and general
manager, said last fall that rep selections for any future networks would be local
decisions, and not corporate decisions.
CNI now reaches 10 million subscribers via 14 regional-news
entities, including Cablevision Systems Corp.'s News 12 operations -- the fifth of
which will soon serve 250,000 subscribers in Bronx, N.Y. -- said Michael Labriola,
CNI's vice president of news sales. NorthWest contributes 2 million-plus subscribers
in Seattle and Spokane, Wash., and Portland, Ore., to CNI's total, while Pittsburgh
Cable News reaches 614,000 homes, he said.
Houck estimated NCC's regional-news-network
subscribers at 6 million-plus.
The news networks are making news on the ad-sales side,
where, Cuffaro said, CNI has been "breaking a lot of new categories." She cited
financial/banking, computer software, tourism, political and retail, including department
stores. CNI has also been more successful in selling regional news to the Detroit
automakers than ever before, she noted.
News sponsorships are attractive to advertisers, Cuffaro
and Houck agreed. Houck added that at NCC, the networks are now packaged with its spot
inventory, which means that they're "getting a wide range of categories."