Jeff Zucker vs. a full-page CBS ad

CBS got some added value with its full-page ad in Monday’s business section of The New York Times—at NBC’s expense. The front page of the section had a story about NBC falling from first to last in the ratings this season. The story continued on page six, along with a big photo of NBC’s Jeff Zucker, looking a little forlorn and casting a sidelong glance in the direction of page seven. What was on page seven? The CBS ad, with 50-point type proclaiming, “CBS Wins.” At the bottom of the ad, CBS took a very civic-minded tone, warning readers that “this week you’ll be hearing a lot of claims and spin” about this season and next. In between the headline and the warning, of course, was a bushel of claims and spin about which categories CBS was No. 1 in—pretty much every one by the way, including rich people and total viewers (by the widest margin in 16 years!). No wonder Jeff was looking glum. But by Monday afternoon, he was looking better, on stage at Radio City Music Hall, presenting NBC’s new fall schedule. First to last? Phooey! “Our core schedule is incredibly solid,” he said. “All we’re missing is one red-hot show.” Now that’s what I call spin.

—Posted by Steve McClellan