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TW exec: DVRs pose no short-term threat

Cable, broadcast TV won't see ad sales loss soon

A correction was made to this article on Jan. 28, 2005.

LAS VEGAS — Fred Dressler, exec VP of Time Warner Cable, predicted Thursday that it would be more than a decade before digital video recorders become so “ubiquitous” that they’ll cause advertisers to cut back their spending on broadcast and cable TV.

Speaking as a panelist on session “The Next Big Thing,” Dressler said that for the foreseeable future, “advertisers will continue to spend in the same way” because it’ll take a while for the critical mass of subscribers to embrace TiVo and other DVRs that offer the power to speed through time-wasting commercials.

“There’s no revolution going on,” he said. “Business models aren’t going to change overnight. And customers often seek out advertising to learn about new products.”

Dressler’s forceful comments were meant to soothe the anxieties of the executives from broadcast and cable networks who fear that new technologies will make it so easy for people to skip commercials that the ad-dependent television business could be jeopardized.

Panel, hosted by Larry Gerbrandt, a director of AlixPartners, was well attended despite the disappearance of scores of conventiongoers who left Las Vegas to return to their offices late Wednesday and early Thursday as the confab was ending.

The fate of two high-visibility hourlong talkshows — Twentieth TV’s “The Suze Orman Show” and Sony Pictures TV’s “Robin Quivers Show” — was still up in the air and will be resolved over the next few weeks. Twentieth was looking for affiliates and owned stations of ABC, CBS and NBC for morning and daytime slots, and Sony was gearing its sales effort toward what the industry calls nontraditional stations (affiliated with Fox, the WB and UPN).

Most execs pronounced the convention a success. “It was a lot like the old days of NATPE,” said Garnett Losak, VP and director of programming for rep firm Petry Media, “with lots of people checking out the programming, making appointments and actually doing deals.”