Major US Networks Bow to Advertiser-Funded Programming

11 June 2004

Three of America's Big Four television networks -- ABC, CBS and NBC -- have agreed to air a trio of new shows funded and produced by ad-driven interests.

Financed by the Family Friendly Programming Forum, a pressure group backed by the powerful Association of National Advertisers, the deal aims to air primetime shows that families can enjoy watching together -- an initiative critics aver would be more aptly named "advertiser-friendly programming".

ABC will air Savages, a comedy series produced and directed by Mel Gibson, featuring a loveable single father and his boys [Gibson's atonement for his recent biblical gorefest?].

NBC is to transmit Father of the Pride, a computer-generated comedy co-produced with Dreamworks, that takes viewers inside the lives of a pride of white lions -- voiced by John Goodman, among others.

While CBS has opted for Clubhouse, a rites-of-passage drama that charts the maturing of a 16-year-old boy who secretly takes a job as batboy for a professional baseball team.

The new programs join four other advertiser-funded enterprises, already on-air.

Crows Kaki Hinton, FFPF co-chair and vp advertising services at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare: "With seven programs in total now on the network schedule, we are very close to attaining our goal of having at least one hour in primetime each day dedicated to family programming."

Stumping up the dollars for this cosy initiative are such advertising giants as Coca-Cola, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, FedEx, Ford Motor Company, IBM, J M Smucker Company, Johnson & Johnson., Kellogg Company, Merck & Co, Pfizer, Sears Roebuck, Procter & Gamble, Unilever United States, Verizon Communications, Wal-Mart, and Wendy's International.

Data sourced from: Association of National Advertisers (USA); additional content by WARC staff