As the clock strikes 12:01 on January first, Time Warner is expected to pull the plug on nineteen Viacom cable channels. These include the most popular channels today, including Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, VH1, CMT and LOGO among others.

The dispute between the media giants focuses on Viacom's need to increase payments from Time Warner by twenty five cents per subscriber. Time Warner insists the programming is "not worth" the cost increase (as if they asked their subscribers).

Time Warner's eleventh hour posturing is outrageous considering the fees they collect from subscribers today (yours truly currently shells out over $200 a month for their services). Try placing a complaint call to Time Warner Cable today and you'll be greeted with a "call back later" recording. They are receiving an avalanche of calls.

Are there options? Increasing ad costs to offset the subscriber cost is perhaps one solution that will eventually trickle down to the consumer in the form of higher priced goods and services. Better yet, let the local municipalities bear down on Time Warner with tighter oversight on program options that have the potential to severely impact its community's viewing choices.

An agreement between the parties was reached just one hour before midnight! Happy New Year!


Check the video post below this one. If you can identify the ad industry elves in the holiday video, we'll donate $100 to the charity of your choice for the first correct response.
Hint: Yours truly is one of the elves. E-Mail your response to pbenjou@gmail.com.

Five Ad Agency Elves


The financial markets have been reeling from the impact of a recession we all knew we were in but refused to acknowledge until this month. How can we possibly get the economy back on track?

Click to my commentary this week at Media Life Magazine ... here. I suspect I'll have a mailbox full of comments!


As the Tribune Company announces bankruptcy with thirteen billion dollars in debt, the New York Times borrows against its real estate assets to stay afloat and the Miami Herald is put up for sale by financially strapped McClatchy, one begins to wonder what the future of the printed news page may bring.

It is not for the lack of readers. It is, more obviously, for the lack of advertising revenue that began with the loss of classified ads to the likes of Craigslist and other online resources, followed by a downturn in our economy and the pullback in display ads by retailers … a perfect storm.

The newspaper business model, one that relies on ad revenue to keep the presses rolling, has been showing stress cracks and is now breaking apart.

On one hand, we have journalistic integrity and depth taking it squarely on the chin as layoffs in the industry take their toll.

Who cares? Advertisers certainly do not. They will find other channels to take the place of newspapers that have long been gone. Readers? For the most part, readers who are loyal to their morning and Sunday editions will feel the pain created by the void.

Newspapers have been through downturns in the past and reinvented themselves with special editions and sections. The rebound this time around will not be easy as the downturn is wider and deeper than before.

How can newspapers survive? Downsize the paper, creating niche markets. Increase the cost of the paper, moving from an ad-supported model to a subscription supported model. Continue to embrace the internet as an adjunct to the printed page.

Finally, boldly move to recapture classified ads. Carry them at NO CHARGE. And watch as circulation jumps and display ad revenue trickles back.

The newspaper industry has been slow to react and slower to fight back, lacking an understanding of the real psychological drivers of their business.


From today’s AP Newswire: “A new deal between Google Inc. and Hallmark Channel allows advertisers to place ads on Hallmark's namesake and movie channels through the Internet search operator, the companies said Wednesday.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Starting early next year advertisers will use the Google TV Ads platform to place ads on Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movie Channel. The platform will also provide viewership data that will allow advertisers to make real-time adjustments to their placements.

Hallmark Channel was viewed in 86 million U.S. homes in November and plans to run more than 30 original movies in 2009. Hallmark Movie Channel shows classic movies, presentations from the Hallmark Hall of Fame library, Hallmark Channel original movies and special events.”

Google TV Ads now represents more than one hundred on-air program opportunities. A review of their demos on YouTube provides some basic understanding of the process. Frankly, I am wary of the ability of Google to reduce the purchase of TV time to a PC driven interface. The tool appears fun to use and if you’re in a mindless state does all of the “thinking” for you. Thanks, but no thanks. The demos appear to be focused on DR advertisers paying $75 to $275 for a cable program slot in an auction based venue.

What is Hallmark thinking? Apparently, desperation breeds panic. And I’m sure the Hallmark reps feel all warm and fuzzy about the prospect of Google selling for them …. Not. If this signals trouble selling inventory for Hallmark, and if you’re a negotiator and not a PC drone, use the weakness to your negotiating advantage! You might want to do the same with all the other Google programs too.