In their own narrowcast way, CNN, ESPN and MTV are terrific. So are HSN and the Weather Channel. But what about a channel for us? Where’s our Ted Turner and Bob Pittman? The m" data-categories = "" data-popup = "" data-ads = "Yes" data-company = "[]" data-outstream = "yes" data-auth = "" >

Deliver us the news By Michael Schrag

In their own narrowcast way, CNN, ESPN and MTV are terrific. So are HSN and the Weather Channel. But what about a channel for us? Where’s our Ted Turner and Bob Pittman? The m

The Weather Channel has weather maps; the Media Channel would have media maps. Instead of seeing a cold front moving up, say, the East Coast, viewers could track the flow of television ratings across every region and city in the country. Think of it as watching a cartographic stock ticker of ratings: NBC is tip in the Midwest: MTV is down in the Northeast; Fox is steady in California; and QVC is going crazy in the South.
Technology- easily permits us to poll cable TV headends in major systems across the country to find out which channels are the most watched on a minute-by-minute basis. Why would the cable companies want to share such information? Because it’s in their best interest to publicize just how integral their systems are in people’s lives. If cable companies hope to have close relationships with major retailers and national advertisers, they need to network with the media advertising community. What better way than providing real-time data to the Media Channel?
Of course, the channel has to allow even more specific information access. The network should also let us access real-time ratings in key markets such as Peoria (for tests), New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. Our programmers could also cut deals with the cable systems to let us spotlight viewing in key demographics–18-to-34-year-old single males; black households with annual incomes over $40,000; families with children under the age of 10, and so on. The Nielsens and Arbitrons of this world aren’t clever enough to realize that what they should be selling is programming–not just reams of data.
In the spirit of America’s Funniest Home Videos, the Media Channel would offer a prime example of voyeur-vision–the use of technologies to give us a new peek into America’s media behavior. Maybe the Media Channel would be transmitted to your TV or your PC–it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that media–like finance, weather, sports and news–is undeniably a 24-hour-a-day business. The Media Channel would treat it like one.
Just like a Bloomberg box or a Telerate terminal, the Media Channel could also carry the latest spot prices in cable and broadcast advertising. Of course, there would be the Conde Nast or Time-Warner Index of magazine advertising rates. And the Gannett/Knight-Ridder Newspaper Averages for Classified and Display Advertising. There would be interviews with experts who track these media trends. Maybe we can link these indexes with other data, like the latest coupon redemption levels at key Safeway and Food Lion stores, thanks to UPC point-of-sale scanner transactions technologies.
Of course, all channels need softer programming to complement their hard news. All networks need stars, and the Media Channel should be no exception. Why not a Siskel and Ebert of advertising? Two thumbs down on those CAA Coke ads; One down and one up .for the IBM ads. Maybe a Media Week in Review where media pundits wax eloquent on weighty events. Or perhaps an advertising counterpart to The McLaughlin Group where media people simply scream at each other. How about a call-in show encouraging viewers to critique ads as they are viewed?
More seriously, it’s easy to envision creative directors talking about the birth of a new campaign, or a client’s roundtable where top media spenders in key industries–autos, computers, food–discuss their concerns. Again, quality programming on the cheap.
Of course, it’s even easier to imagine the sort of advertisers willing to support such a channel. Other networks, syndicators, magazine companies, professional service firms, Federal Express, Nike, AT&T– the usual suspects. The media community is precisely the group of people advertisers most want to reach. They’re where “word of mouth” begins in the pop culture business. Indeed, that’s what the Media Channel really is–the business-of-pop-culture channel. The Media Channel is to global media what Reuters is to global finance or CNN is to global news.
In New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Tokyo and Milan, the media communities are waiting iota network to call their own. Who will give it to them?
Copyright Adweek L.P. (1993)