Network Executives Come and Go

Advertisers must be scratching their heads when it comes to departing network executives and the timing of the New York upfront meetings.

Less than two months away from those meetings - and for the second year in a row --- the head of the broadcasting network will leave. Fox Entertainment president Gail Berman is taking a senior position at Paramount Pictures.

Last year ABC Entertainment TV chairman Lloyd Braun and entertainment president Susan Lyne departed just weeks before upfront meetings. Touchstone TV president Steve McPherson then took over the reins of the network.

Of course, considering the results of that upfront, advertisers should be assured that mostly good things will come as a result of a major executive exit. This year ABC turned its fortunes around with big hits, "Desperate Housewives," "Lost," and "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."



The difference is that for Fox goods things are already here. Berman will leave with the network in good standings, as Fox had its first ever victory for the broadcast season in the adults 18 to 49 demographic.

What does this all mean for advertisers? Perhaps very little. In the short term, program development is well under way. Upfront strategies are in place, as market dynamics of a weak second quarter market already had its effect.

One of Berman's key strategies that will probably stay around is establishing a 52-week, year-round approach to program development - all this to accommodate the network's October Major League Baseball playoff games. Though Fox had a rough going with this plan initially - it had poor performing shows in the summer and later in the fall after baseball -- advertisers still enthusiastically support Berman's plan.

Berman had a surprise this past January. When most critics thought "American Idol" would recede in its ratings from a year ago, it soared to new heights -- even surprising Berman and the rest of the Fox executive staff. And advertisers were pleased as well - they too like programs that over deliver on promises.

All of which means that advertisers should go to the upfront presentations and parties and buy whatever new shows Fox, CBS, ABC, or NBC has to offer. Then they can sit back and wait for those shows to over deliver on their ratings guarantees.

But maybe that's too much promise. The only thing assured these days is that network executives will be around for about four years and that Rob Lowe will star in yet another pilot.

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