SNTA Preview: Marc Hirsch

Mar 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

By Lee Alan Hill

Special to TelevisionWeek

Marc Hirsch, president of Paramount Advertiser Services, said he’s frustrated that the success of syndication seems to attract less publicity than that of cable.

“I saw a big story saying how the National Geographic Network had four new programs,” he said, working himself up over the perceived slight. “Who cares? Who watches the National Geographic Network?

“Syndication gives you a larger audience, sometimes a market reach greater than a broadcast network. Our off-network shows are proven successes. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have enough episodes to sell them. Our first-run shows have often been on for 10, 20 or more years. They’re TV icons.”

Mr. Hirsch has been with Paramount for more than 20 years, joining in 1983 as division manager for barter sales. Unlike many of his colleagues, he can claim a prior life selling cable to advertisers. He began his sales career at the Cable Health Network, which later evolved into Lifetime.

One of his major accomplishments at Paramount was overseeing sales for the launch of the UPN Network in 1995. He’s a former chairman of the board for the Syndicated Network Television Association, which he calls “the organization designed to get the word out that we have the goods.”

“Marc is whip-smart and is usually thinking two steps ahead of everyone else,” said Joel Berman, president of Paramount Worldwide Television Distribution. “He’s a great strategist, and he’s a very creative problem-solver as well.”

“We try to maximize the value of our programs and build and maintain strong relationships,” Mr. Hirsch said of his sales philosophy. “I never want to walk away saying, ‘I got you.’ I’d rather finish and say both sides are satisfied.”

Mr. Hirsch and Paramount took off-network sales of “Star Trek: Enterprise” to the National Association of Television Program Executives this year. In addition, he is finishing up selling the second season of “The Insider” and continuing with perennials such as “Entertainment Tonight.” The latter has been on the air for 24 seasons, making Mr. Hirsch’s point that syndication can mean longevity rarely known in any other form of TV.

“I don’t see a [TV] model where the need for syndication will go away,” Mr. Hirsch said. “Nor do I see a model where anyone is capable of delivering the reach of syndication.

“Cable has become the likable sibling who gets all of the fanciest gifts. I admit they have had a much better publicity machine, but we think we have the real story.”

Just the Facts

Title: President, Paramount Advertiser Services

How long in current position: Since 1989

Year of birth: 1944

Place of birth: Brooklyn, N.Y.

Who knew? Mr. Hirsch’s self-described passion for fine wines has led him to publish an annual wine newsletter.