Euros swap stories

Bartering programs for ads grows attractive

CANNES — Barter may be getting a boost in the Euro TV market.

Given the growth in commercial outlets on the Continent over the last decade — and the cash crunch that many foreign TV stations are currently facing — swapping programs for airtime may be just what the doctor ordered.

Take animation specialist DIC Entertainment. The L.A.-based producer of shows like “Inspector Gadget” and “Madeline” has just joined forces with ad agency giant McCann-Erickson to form a barter operation called the Intl. Media Exchange (T.I.M.E.).

The joint venture will offer Euro broadcasters the opportunity to trade ad time for DIC-produced programs.

New DIC shows like “Mary-Kate & Ashley in Action” and “Liberty’s Kids,” along with series from DIC’s library, will be offered by McCann to broadcasters in exchange for a portion of their commercial time.

Universal McCann, a unit of the ad agency, will fill that time with General Mills and Nestle brand advertising, and the agency will pay a license fee to DIC for the programming. (The two food companies have a global partnership called Cereal Partners Worldwide to market breakfast cereals abroad.)

UM will likely partner with only one station per territory, and thus the incremental spots from the agency’s two clients will air only on that station.

Heyward a pioneer

Andy Heyward, chairman and CEO of DIC, was instrumental in developing the barter syndication strategy for kids programming in the U.S. “Inspector Gadget” was one of the first original cartoon series to be offered for barter in U.S. syndication back in 1983.

The Euro model has been for stations to pay cash for shows. Having to pay cash has limited the number of shows and outlets available to run children’s programming.

“Our programming-for-ad-time strategy will enable DIC to place more shows on more Euro networks,” Heyward predicted.

Universal McCann exec Phil Creswell will oversee the joint venture from the agency’s London office.

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