The Insider

May 13, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Disney change is O(401)K
The Walt Disney Co. gave employees who have 401(k) accounts a safety net after watching how workers at nose-diving companies such as Enron lost their retirement accounts. In early March, Disney notified its 401(k) participants that, effective immediately, company matching funds, whether past or present, no longer have to remain invested in the Disney Common Stock Fund.
“There has been much debate recently over the issue of 401(k) flexibility,” said the letter dated March 8 and absent the familiar salutation to “Cast Members,” as employees historically have been called. “The Company believes that employees should be free to exercise control over their retirement planning, including 401(k) plans, through careful investment and diversification during their working years.”
While Disney’s matching contributions “will continue to be invested automatically in the Disney Common Stock Fund,” said the letter from Employee Benefits, participants can “reallocate” the matching funds “at any time” after they’ve been credited to the account. At deadline, Disney stock had closed at $25.10, down 40 cents for the day and slightly closer to the 52-week high of $25.75 hit on March 12 than to the 52-week low of $24.40 of April 3.
The Insider hopes this option makes it easier for Disney and ABC employees to whistle while they work for as long as they have to work.
One Fox News ad, so many questions
Anyone who knows what’s what at Fox News Channel knows (a) Bill O’Reilly’s stock continues to rise, (b) Greta Van Susteren’s stock has begun to sink and (c) the net’s PR crew considers MSNBC so irrelevant that it refuses to acknowledge with word or deed that the distant-third news network exists.
So eyebrows were raised by last week’s big print ads in which Fox News’ marketing department pointed out Fox’s big bragging points-No. 1 in households, total day, prime time and the 25 to 54 demo-and included quotes lifted from stories about Fox’s growth.
One of the quotes-about how “Fox is doing the tango while CNN and MSNBC are waltzing”-is attributed to “Eric Sorenson, MSNBC.” Of course, anyone who knows what’s what in cable news knows that the Mr. Sorenson is (a) president of MSNBC and (b) Erik with a “K” not Eric with a “C.”
The Insider is, as faithful readers know all too well, (a) inclined to overthink things and (b) partial to dark humor. So The Insider leapt with gazelle-like grace to the conclusion that Fox News’ ferocious PR folk had just a tad too much time on their hands-going to the trouble to mention a competitor they otherwise do not recognize just so they can misspell his name? Or elsewhere in the ad, revive the May 2001 boast by Jamie Kellner that CNN would establish itself as the distant leader, only to identify the chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting System as CEO of “Turner Broadcast”?
Turns out there’s a much more Dilbertian explanation. The marketing team that churns out the Fox News ads doesn’t (a) report to Fox News PR or (b) give Fox News PR a peek at the ad copy.
The Insider is taking bets on how long that lasts.
Listen up, Fox sportsters
Speaking of Fox, The Insider hears the sports folks and MCA have been collaborating on a NASCAR-driven CD featuring hard-driving contemporary rock. The Insider also has been given an upfront heads-up that’s only slightly less vague than Homefront Security’s color-coded terrorist alerts. She’s been promised that she is going to laugh her considerable butt off-would that it were that easy-at the presentation May 16 that closes upfront week. Something about some executives’ crossing a fashion line. And apparently, we’re not talking about a sitcom.
Stay tuned and stay awake.
All dot-calm for ABC upfront
Coming soon, to a computer near you! It’s the ABC upfront. See the stars! Feel the drama! Hear the laughter! Share the suspense! OK, you caught The Insider stretching because an item fell out from under her at the last minute.
But advertisers who can’t make it to New York or who don’t make the cut for entrance to the intimate New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street can still catch ABC’s entire 2002-03 presentation at 4 p.m. Tuesday via a live webcast of a network upfront.
To catch the streaming video, media buyers and clients have to sign up in advance at ABCStagePass.com, the Web site the network launched in late March to keep the advertising community posted on ABC Entertainment President Susan Lyne’s development slate. Late last week there were new cast photos up for such comedies as “Legally Blonde” (check out the Harry Pottery-looking guy at the far left of the ensemble) and “Sun Gods,” a workplace comedy about solar-panel salesmen.
The presentation-and news of a continued tweaking of the rookie shows-will be accessible through the summer.
Beats reruns.