Task force seeks upfront overhaul

NUDG mulls splitting market, ending all-night talks

The Assn. of National Advertisers and the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies have formed a joint task force in hopes of reshaping the upfront process, including whether to impose a “closing bell” on latenight negotiations with the networks.

The Network Upfront Negotiation Discussion Group (NUDG) also will consider whether it makes sense to continue holding the annual upfront ad buy market in May, considering the trend away from the traditional TV season. One idea is to split the upfront into two half-year selling seasons.

NUDG has called for an April 29 summit in Gotham, inviting reps from the broadcast nets. The upfront gets under way the week of May 17 in New York, with the nets unveiling their fall skeds and wooing advertisers to buy up time.

Media buyers have previously called for a closing bell that would put an end to the frenzied, all-night negotiations that follow the upfront presentations by the networks; however, it is the first time a formal task force has been formed to discuss this issue.

ANA prexy-chief exec Bob Liodice said NUDG reflects the growing dissatisfaction with the upfront process.

“We believe that, under the boundaries established by legal counsel, the ANA and AAAA can facilitate a constructive discussion,” Liodice said.

Network execs say a closing bell is a good idea in theory, but there’s no way of guaranteeing that every media buyer would honor such a deadline.

This week, both CBS and NBC will hold pre-upfront press briefings in Gotham.

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