Horizon Media's Bill Koenigsberg railed against the upfront process Thursday, saying it needs reform because it requires difficult long-term planning in an ever-changing business.
When he later suggested that four large holding companies have undue sway in the market, and the major networks unduly benefit from their read of the financials, he was met with applause.
Koenigsberg, the Horizon CEO, spoke on a panel at the ANA's annual TV forum in New York. He thinks the market needs to be altered, not abolished. "I think the industry has to come together and re-engineer it."
Having to plan for this coming market is troubling, particularly since Horizon needs time to evaluate new buying opportunities that pop up, such as capitalizing on the cable industry's TV Everywhere push.
"The world is changing every day; for us to be thinking about 2012 now is a huge problem," he said.
Fellow panelist MediaVest's Pam Zucker offered a contrary position, arguing that there are advantages to planning ahead. She cited long-term sports media contracts, which are not necessarily part of the upfront, while she advises clients that deals can be done year-round.
Marianne Gambelli of NBC said: "We transact all year -- we'll do whatever the customer wants." She said that discussions outside the upfront that involve multilayered initiatives are taking place more than ever.