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Hearst, TMI join to develop direct-marketing projects

Hearst Entertainment and Transactional Media Inc. have formed a partnership to develop and distribute programming with a direct marketing bent, much along the lines of ABC’s recently completed test of a program called “Nitecap.”

The new venture will unveil some new projects at the National Assn. of Television Programming Executives in San Francisco.

“Our goal is to have one or more programs on the air by the fall of this year ,” said Terry Botwick, president of Hearst Entertainment, in making the announcement.

Direct marketing to consumers through TV programming is a concept that has picked up steam following the boom of infomercials.

However, the next wave of programs, such as “Nitecap,” are being developed more as traditional programs that offer direct-marketing aspects. Instead of having a half-hour devoted to one item, producers are now looking for ways to create shows that include pitches for more items without a hard-sell approach.

“Where once direct selling was consigned primarily to cable and to late night , it is clear that in the very near future, transactional programs will be available in all dayparts and throughout all of broadcasting and cable,” Botwick said.

ABC’s “Nitecap” aired on 40 of the network’s affiliates and on the surface appeared to have been a success. The one-hour entertainment/information program was hosted by Robin Leach and Rae Dawn Chong. ABC, its affiliates and TMI shared revenues derived from the show.

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