TV's Financial Drama: Not Only The Stuff BETWEEN Commercials

There were still TV commercials running yesterday -- all amidst the worst-ever point drop in the Dow Industrials.

In the afternoon, after the markets had closed, MSNBC still had ads for Brita, Mastercard, Benadryl, and Universal Pictures' "Flash of Genius."  CNBC had the likes of Charles Schwab, Cadillac, AT&T, Lending Tree, and FedEx. Fox Business Channel had Weight Watchers and Debt Relief USA. Bloomberg Television had Bose Corp., Standard Chartered bank, and Weight Watchers.

What does this tell us? Do not adjust your TV sets. It's business as usual -- at least for the last week in September.

Over the last several months, TV news networks have struggled to figure out what the ongoing big financial news story means to consumers . Will it be tougher for small businesses to get short-term credit? Is unemployment rising?  Are there more business failures? How safe is your IRA?

If consumers can't make heads or tails of the financial crisis, perhaps they'll gain assurance from the type of TV advertising that's running. If they notice business is still working as usual -- companies targeting them and asking for their money -- that's a good sign, isn't it?

One day doesn't make that much difference, but there might be changes down the road.

Media executives will say you don't need to see a TV network's or program's ratings to gauge its health; just watch the quality of its advertisers.  If, in the next few months, you see a bunch of direct-response advertisers running in prime time for major shows like CBS' "CSI," NBC's "Heroes," Fox's "House" or ABC's "Grey's Anatomy,"  that'll tell a different story.

Last week senior executives at major media companies told investors about some advertising problems with local TV stations -- but not with national TV venues. Maybe this is the tip of the iceberg.

Financial news networks don't need to heighten the drama of their news programming. It's all there in the market's numbers.  Later on, the angst may show up in commercial breaks.



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