Upfront reforms stalled

Orgs meet, but no consensus on reforms

Media buyers and advertisers on Thursday seemed to quickly abandon the idea of instituting a “closing bell” during the frantic upfront ad buy market.

The first-ever meeting of The Network Upfront Discussion Group (NUDG), a partnership of the Assn. of National Advertisers and the American Assn. of Advertising Agencies, was called amid high hopes that the upfront process might be reformed.

But the closed session in Gotham ended with no consensus on either the closing bell or whether to split the upfront into two half-year selling seasons, reflecting the trend toward a year-round TV season.

Except for NBC, all the broadcast nets were present at the summit, which came less than a month before the upfronts get under way in New York the week of May 17.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, ANA prexy-chief exec Bob Liodice said NUDG arose out of the growing dissatisfaction with the upfront process. He said the meeting was productive, even if no actual changes were decided upon.

“We tried to keep our expectations low,” Liodice said. “Our objective was to have the forum to bring together these different points of view and react to them.”

Nets say they are used to the usual litany of complaints by advertisers regarding the upfront process but weren’t surprised that no consensus was reached by NUDG regarding actually reforming the process.

Because of antitrust concerns, NUDG wasn’t able to ask the networks about pricing, Liodice said.

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