Cable, broadcast spar over wired delivery

Jun 24, 2002  •  Post A Comment

It’s round two in the increasingly bitter battle between the Television Bureau of Advertising and the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau over the issue of alternative delivery systems, primarily direct broadcast satellite, and the effect of ADS on wired cable penetration.
The CAB represents advertising-supported cable networks and system operators. The TVB represents competing broadcast stations and groups.
CAB President and CEO Joe Ostrow took issue with a TVB report last week that claimed that an increase in ADS penetration resulted in a decline in wired cable penetration from 70.8 percent during the May 2001 sweeps to 70.6 percent in May 2002.
To counter the TVB’s number, the CAB commissioned a Nielsen study measuring viewership for ad-supported cable in wired cable homes. That study shows consistent rises in penetration levels for all dayparts.
TVB called the CAB’s viewership study “misleading.”
“We sent a letter to Nielsen yesterday asking them to look at the CAB release,” said TVB President Chris Rohrs. “We felt that they had misused the Nielsen data.”
Mr. Rohrs contended that the ADS issue is about subscriber levels, not viewership levels, and that while cable viewership may be rising-at least in part because of the proliferation of cable networks, in his view-subscribership is down the 0.2 percent. CAB rejects this contention, saying that advertisers buy viewers, not subscribers.
What makes this a multimillion-dollar dispute is the TVB’s contention that because DBS has no local insertion capability, advertisers should beware that their buys aren’t based on cable ratings that aggregate the wired with the unwired viewers. The CAB has called this a red herring, saying wired cable is not sold aggregated with ADS.
According to the TVB, national ADS penetration reached 15.1 percent in May 2002, up from 12.7 percent in May 2001, while its largest component, DBS delivery, reached an estimated 13.8 percent, up from 11 percent last year.