Oscars Awards Show To Allow Film Commercials

ABC's "Academy Awards" show will now get some additional dramatic content during its big annual telecast--film commercials.

Since 1953, when the Oscars first ran on television, theatrical movie commercials have been banned during the Academy Awards--typically the second-most-viewed TV event of the year (the first is the Super Bowl). The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences has always maintained that televising movie commercials would give an appearance of possible influence over the outcome of the awards.

The Academy may have been moved by a changing TV ad environment, particularly one of its biggest Oscar TV advertisers.

Earlier this year, long-time advertiser General Motors decided not to buy the event next February after years of running multiple commercials in the award ceremony. Reports say that Hyundai Motor America appears to have taken up much of the slack that GM left behind.

The Academy has a rare veto power as a TV producer: It gets approval over all TV commercials. In recent years, the stately event has made other changes--as it did in moving up the event to February from a March date because of the growing number of TV awards shows.



ABC now prices the Academy Awards event at $1.8 million for a 30-second announcement, the second-priciest TV commercial for any single show. The costliest is the Super Bowl, now near $3 million a spot.

Movie companies have long been known to pay top dollar versus other TV advertisers--especially when it comes to heavily viewed events. This can only add to ABC's coffers in forcing up the price--as well as that of the Academy--in possibly raising program rights fees for ABC.

But the Academy says this is not a free-for-all. Only one 30-second or 60-second movie spot can appear in any commercial break; each studio will get one ad each to run for a single movie, not for a full slate of films; a movie must open no sooner that the last week in April (as a caution to using the Academy or the Oscar name as a direct marketing tool); films in the commercials can't be sequels; and finally, the TV commercials must never have been aired previously.

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