Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc. executive vice president of
research and marketing Barry Fischer weighed in last Thursday with his own criticisms of
Fox Broadcasting Co.'s new anti-cable presentation to advertisers and ad agencies.
Fox has assembled "a highly selective package of
statements that paint a picture that's unrealistic. It's just a lot of
distraction, a bunch of disparate facts that don't talk about broadcast-only
homes," Fischer said.
Broadcast-only homes now represent just 22 percent of U.S.
television homes -- a segment that's "incredibly downscale, old and
female," he claimed.
Even though Fox devoted two pages of its pitch to
TBSI's "Media at the Millennium" presentations, Fischer said, "This
has nothing to do with Media at the Millennium," since it doesn't offer any
authentic research to counter those studies. Therefore, he said, "It's not
enough to change anyone's mind-set" on the agency/client side.
Fox's tactic is a "classic '70s
[approach]," Fischer said. In the past, NBC and CBS -- the latter in a presentation
dubbed "The Cable Fable" -- took similar tacks: "We're not as big as
we used to be, but we're still bigger than the other guys," recalled Fischer, a
former Wells Rich Greene Inc. executive.
Fox took issue with Turner's pitches that have
maintained that the top third of cable programs can replicate the reach of the bottom
third of network-TV programs. Turner actually showed how broadcast and cable could work in
combination, Fischer said. "We never said, 'Don't buy broadcast or [its]
Fischer, who said Turner doesn't plan to counterattack
Fox in its own upcoming pitches, added that he found it interesting that Fox is, in
effect, attacking its own cable networks, as well.
"That kind of rocks me," he said. "This
suggests to me that Fox is particularly concerned that dollars are shifting away from
broadcast to cable. I can think of no other reason."
Meanwhile, the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau
doesn't plan to change its strategy in the wake of Fox's pitch, "The Power
of Network Television."
Reacting to the criticisms from Turner and the CAB, a Fox
spokesman said, "Our presentation is about the strength of broadcasting. We're
sorry that some people in cable have perceived that as a threat. We stand by the facts and
methodology in the presentation, which is being well received by our clients in the
advertising, planning and buying community."
Steve Raddock, the CAB's vice president of planning,
said it doesn't plan any special presentations or trade ads to counter Fox.
"Basically, we're not altering our course."
Instead, the CAB will continue to accentuate its positive
growth story. "We don't feel that we have to be defensive," he said.
"We'll take the high road [as we] continue with our normal presentations."