Small Ops Eye Ad Sales


Even the smallest cable operators in rural America are now
looking to share in the ongoing boom in cable ad sales. And National Cable Television
Cooperative president Michael Pandzik felt that his group may have found a way to give
those systems entrée for the first time.

The NCTC -- although it is best-known for negotiating
master affiliation deals with programmers on behalf of its small-town members -- has, for
about three years, been building support for what Pandzik dubbed "the ad-avails

Noting that its 1,000 members represent perhaps 6,000
systems with a combined 9 million subscribers, Pandzik said 5,000 of those systems
"do nothing with avails," adding that most can't afford digital insertion

The NCTC has been in talks that Pandzik hopes will
ultimately lead to forming "a mini-version of HITS [Headend in the Sky]," in
which "six to 12 basic-cable networks" would downlink their satellite signals to
Kansas City, Mo.; strip out their local-avail slots; and then strip in these
operators' spots.

Those newly embedded commercials would then be
retransmitted up to a different satellite transponder, and that signal would be received
only by participating NCTC operators, he said.

There are no network agreements yet.

--Jim Forkan