Open Mike - Broadcasting & Cable

Open Mike

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Creeping Clutter

Editor: Your article, "Clutter rules the airwaves" (Feb. 18), as highlighted in a 4As release, just hits the tip of the iceberg. This creeping increase in commercialization was a challenge at TVB, but the wizards that make the ultimate decision to sneak in an extra spot here and there just don't get it. We are constantly in the biz of convincing advertisers that nothing is more effective than television to market a product or a service.

Yet research, albeit old, shows that more non-program content in television erodes advertising effectiveness and, thus, television's value. So what do we have? As commercialization creeps up, the effectiveness niche of television piddles downward. It's winning the battle to squeeze in more ad revenue in the short haul but losing the war in the long run, because it will send some advertisers looking for alternatives.

In the real world, television advertising prices are determined by supply and demand. If the boys with the green eye shades think this through, they'd realize more advertising revenue at the end of the day because the supply remains constant while demand inches up. When this happens, the value of television stays strong, and ad revenue increases. Adam Smith figured that out in 1776, and he didn't even own a set.

Why does it work? Because television gives advertisers a selling marketplace better than anything ever created on this earth—and our gatekeepers need to keep it that way.

—Ave Butensky, former president, Bureau of Advertising, Los Angeles

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