Stalemate at US TV Upfront Summit

03 May 2004

Last week's meeting called in an attempt to stem the rising tide of ad buyers' dissatisfaction with the annual TV upfront bazaar [WAMN: 12-Apr-04] ended in stalemate.

Although a second session has been tentatively set for May 6, it is unlikely to take place, believes Robert D Liodice, chief executive of the Association of National Advertisers. He sees "no real necessity at this stage to have another meeting".

The New York meeting, attended by around forty senior executives from the three sides of the ad industry -- advertisers, media agencies and the big broadcast and cable networks -- labored fruitlessly for over four hours.

Convened by the ANA and American Association of Advertising Agencies, the forty or so hagglers included such big guns as General Motors and Procter & Gamble, media buying shops Carat and OMD, and broadcasters ABC, CBS and Fox. No common ground was found.

Bemoaned Liodice: "In the discussions, there were no alternatives that reached enough consensus to support that something should be changed [so] we'll continue with what we have."

O Burtch Drake, president/ceo of the AAAA, concurred. The so-called Network Upfront Discussion Group failed to scale the barricade erected by the media owners, none of whom were willing to budge on the issue.

"The real angst is all about rising prices and falling audiences," Drake said. "Voices got raised a little bit but in the end we settled on where we are right now."

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff