Trade Event Report
Television Bureau of Advertising's Annual Marketing Conference, + + +
By Al Berrios (contact Al Berrios)

As always, the TVB event on April 16, 2004, turned out to be a must-attend for broadcast station owners and affiliates. At no other function do they get together like this. I, regrettably, don't own a TV station, so didn't get as much value out of it as I would have liked. I can tell you that Susan Whiting, president and CEO, Nielsen Media Research made yet another controversial move of accusing FOX of leading the charge against Nielsen's PPM in NY; she further acknowledged that those missing 18-24 males do have more choices, so ratings have indeed suffered, but not so spectacularly that it warrants as much attention as it's gotten in the trade media ("35% of General U.S. T.V. Viewing Population Is Prompted to Watch By Word of Mouth"). Clearly, as diplomatic as Ms. Whiting appeared, she's a researcher at heart, without full knowledge of the authority her words wield. I'd go as far as saying that if she took more advantage of her position, she could very well be as watched as Mr. Greenspan.

I arrived right in time for lunch, during which Brian Williams delivered a speech about the minutiae of his life, which proved to be quite fascinating. Mr. Williams is indeed a gifted journalist and story-teller. He spoke about growing up in a 3-network universe and the way media has changed, not always for the better, and definitely for every taste. But he assured us that he will strive to always deliver serious and excellent journalism.

After lunch, Les Moonves of CBS and UPN was interviewed on the state of broadcast television. Les basically said what a man in his position has to say, neither controversial, nor enlightening. His attitude was very much like he's just hanging out, intentionally not thinking about business so his industry buddies (and affiliates) don't get bored or bothered. To some degree, I expected as much; CBS is running as though it's their turn in line to succeed - as though their competitors acknowledge it's their turn, too, and hold off doing anything better. Les basically has to sit back and take the credit; there appears to not be much strategic thinking going on anywhere in network-TV-land, particularly when it comes to ad rates. It very much reinforces my assessment about CBS when I commented on the Janet fiasco ("Janet's Boob"). It would have been nice to hear something interesting, if not about the industry, then at least about VIACOM.

As for the food, not memorable. Chicken, I think. Since you're probably as tired as I am about Javits, the venue, then I won't describe it again. Overall, this event merits 3 (+ + +) pluses.


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