By Amy Helmes
Special to TelevisionWeek
It was hardly déjà vu for Clark Morehouse in December 2000, when he returned to Tribune Entertainment as senior VP of advertiser sales, a post he first held from 1984 until 1993.
When he originally left to run media sales at Warner Bros. and later the Channel One network, the economy was booming. But in kicking off his second stint at Tribune Mr. Morehouse faced a new set of challenges.
“The ad business in general was on a steady decline, but after Sept. 11, the business climate became pretty desperate for a while,” he said.
Happily for Mr. Morehouse, Tribune offers a list of programs that advertisers have embraced, including two rare action-hour success stories, “Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda” and “Mu-tant X”; niche shows such as “Famous Homes & Hideaways” and “Animal Rescue”; and two of the company’s biggest moneymakers, “Family Feud” and the DIC kids block.
This fall, the company will add “South Park” to its roster. “It’s going to be a wonderful way to attract money across a number of different product categories,” Mr. Morehouse said. “[‘South Park’] is a brand that people understand.”
Now if only media planners could better grasp the syndication business, Mr. Morehouse would be one happy ad sales exec. “It’s sad how the misconceptions of our business [regarding issues such as integration lead time and buying schedules] tend to keep us out of the planning process for a lot of categories,” he said.
That’s where, Mr. Morehouse said, membership in the Syndicated Network Television Association can offer substantial reinforcement. By helping to educate planners about the many benefits of syndication, Mr. Morehouse said, he hopes to garner new business with companies in the pharmaceutical, automotive and cellular categories.
“Even though consolidation has reduced the number of companies that are in it, we’re still a business that has great off-net programming that delivers high ratings and robust coverage,” he said.
Larry Blasius, executive VP and director of negotiations at media services firm Magna Global, has negotiated deals with Mr. Morehouse for the past two decades. He described his colleague’s approach to business as straightforward and to the point. “There’s not a lot of time wasted with Clark,” he said. “You can sort of cut to the chase.”
Certainly, Mr. Morehouse’s tell-it-like-it-is approach is apparent when he’s singing the praises of syndicated television. “The advertisers who support us would be a hell of a lot worse off without a syndication option,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”
Just the Facts
Title: Senior VP, advertiser sales, Tribune Entertainment
How long in current position: Four years
Year of birth: 1951
Place of birth: Camden, N.J.
Who knew? Mr. Morehouse calls himself the “Kevin Bacon of the syndication business,” joking that he has six degrees of separation from just about anyone in the industry.