Olson Steps Down From Spot Cable Ad Giant NCC

The driving force behind much of spot cable's ad sales momentum - Tom Olson, CEO of National Cable Communications (NCC) - Monday announced plans to retire at the end of the year. Olson, who in five years oversaw the creation of dozens of interconnects and, more importantly, doubling spot cable's share of national TV advertising between 1998 and 2003, will be replaced by Greg Schaefer, currently NCC's chief operating officer and a broadcast TV veteran.

With much of spot cable advertising's technological issues surmounted Schaefer tells MediaDailyNews NCC's focus in 2004 will be on educating marketers and ad agencies on the virtues of spot cable TV advertising.

Schaefer, who joined NCC a year ago after 25 years of CBS and Group W TV sales, gave Olson credit for bringing national spot cable from its infancy to the point where it has become easier to buy and track. More than 70 of the top 100 markets are now interconnected, and within the past two years NCC has moved the spot cable buy online to where 96 percent of orders come in that way.



Speaking from NCC's midtown Manhattan headquarters Monday afternoon, Schaefer said NCC will continue educating agencies and clients on the changes in the process of buying national spot cable.

"If they bought it five years ago, it's certainly not what they remember," he said. NCC has added more offices coast to coast and more than doubled staff. It's also actively courted media planners and buyers, last spring capping a multi-city roadshow with an upfront-like presentation in the spring attended by more than 100 New York agency people.

NCC has also been listening to buyers, addressing agencies' concerns in previous years about not getting timely information, for instance. NCC said those problems are behind them.

While Schaefer acknowledged that national spot cable was beginning from a small base, Schaefer said the interconnects and the targeted nature of cable spelled more growth ahead.

"We see nothing but upside potential," Schaefer said.

Plans for 2004 call for the hiring of even more sales staff -- Schaefer declined to be more specific -- and more internal training. The first quarter will also see new features at NCC's agency Web site that will give it more demographic tools, market by market.

Schaefer current position involves responsibility for NCC's spot sales division. Before joining NCC, he was vice president/station manager at WCBS, the New York City O&O for CBS. He has also been president of Viacom Station Sales, director of sales at WCBS-TV and executive vice president of CBS Television Station Sales.

Before its merger with CBS, he spent 13 years at Group W Television Station Sales in New York, including time as vice president of director of operations for five Group W stations. He graduated in 1975 from Marquette University and started his career as a media buyer for Ted Bates & Co. in New York. He was also an account executive at TeleRep Inc. in New York.

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