Network Integration Fee Woes: If It Itches, Scratch It

The weirdness about the joint ANA/AAAA survey concerning the long-term problem of network integration fees isn't about the 87% who believe those fees are unfair and out of date.

It's the mystery about the other 13%.  Do they seemingly not care -- or, stranger still, are they in favor of those integration fees?

Perhaps those 13% believe the fees will somehow bring back TV advertising business to some normalcy. We understand. Maybe they feel those fees will somehow magically make their commercials look good. Maybe that extra 0.5% in media costs is some kind of good will for future endeavors.

ABC, NBC, and CBS have responded that union rules still force them to charge those extra $500 fees. Yet unions don't seem to affect the way the likes of Fox, ION, MyNetworkTV, the CW, (or the WB and UPN before it) do business. They don't charge union fees. Sure, they are not full 22-hour networks. But whether or not networks air 10 or 12 or 15 or 22 hours a week of prime time shouldn't make a difference. Not in these digital media times.

So here's the bottom line: The average prime-time spot is some $120,000. Now the betting among media executives is that soon, one day, the networks will indeed get rid of those fees, by just rolling them into the price of a 30-second commercial. So, one spot will come to $120,525 in one invoice -- not one invoice for $120,000 and another for $525.

Here's a suggestion: ABC, NBC, and CBS should get rid of those fees, for one year, maybe two, and offer up some Internet TV media schedules as a bonus to all TV marketers -- not just the big advertisers who have been experimenting with digital TV episodes.

This would be nice payback -- and not as a very big expense -- for many decades of being good advertising customers, even in the most of troubling times.

Apply that $525 integration fee as an Internet credit -- which will probably pay for one entire airing of a "CSI" episode. Even mid-sized, perennial TV advertisers such as Gold Bond powder will be grateful.

The integration itch will go away



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