Two Syndicators Give Pass on Make-Goods

Universal, NBC tell stations not to worry about war-preempted spots

At least two major syndicators last week planned to give TV stations a break, forgiving some advertising make-goods that stations would owe them if syndicated shows were preempted by coverage of the war.

Typically, syndicators and TV stations split the ad time in shows. If any of the syndicators' spots are preempted, the stations are required to play them in their own time within a week or so.

But last week, Universal Domestic Television and NBC Enterprises said they would not require such make-goods in the "initial phase of the war."

Universal's shows—including Maury, Jerry Springer, Blind Date, Fifth Wheel
and Crossing Over With John Edward—most often run on Fox, UPN and The WB stations, which don't air as much news as Big Three affiliates or O&Os. Last week, though, most commercial stations preempted some regular programming. In Los Angeles on Thursday, for instance, both Fox's KTTV(TV) and UPN's KCOP(TV) carried Fox News Channel; The WB affiliate, Tribune-owned KTLA(TV), carried a CNN feed.

"We believe it is vital that we provide some relief to our broadcast partners in the initial stage of any wall-to-wall coverage of military action against Iraq," said Steve Rosenberg, president of Universal Domestic Television, in a statement. "As stations' partners, we need to respond to the loss of advertising revenue and increased news-related expenses that they will face as a result of covering these events."

A King World spokeswoman said the syndicator "still is asking stations to give us [make-good] time, with the possibility that they can give it to us outside of the normal seven-day window. We are just going to be more flexible."

King World's shows—which include The Oprah Winfrey Show, Dr. Phil, Wheel of Fortune
and Jeopardy
—run mostly on ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates and O&Os in big markets and command top advertising dollars.

Warner Bros. Domestic Television wasn't ready to commit to a plan. "At this point, stations are covering a vitally important news story, and, when the time is appropriate, we will sit down with them and figure out what to do," said a spokesman.

Sony Pictures Television plans to conduct business as usual, collecting make-goods as its contracts stipulate.

Twentieth Television, Buena Vista Television and Paramount Domestic Television had no comment.