AdweekMedia Forecast 2011

The media and marketing worlds keep morphing at fantastic speed. 2010 was a dervish of activity in terms of changes in content and advertising, technological advances and the ever-looming specter of government regulation.

Expect 2011 to be just as chaotic, challenging and intense, as major players—and startups unknown at present—blaze new trails and seemingly everyone everywhere strives at all times (and by any means possible) to stay digitally connected.

Our editors take a look at what’s ahead in key industry sectors:







By Katy Bachman

It could be game-changing time on Capitol Hill. Congress and regulators are scrutinizing a host of issues affecting both new and traditional media, any one of which could force advertisers, media and Internet companies to alter business models. Some have suggested that because they include potential rules to regulate the Internet and broadband, old rules regarding media, and emerging privacy concerns, that it’s time for Congress to take a comprehensive approach. “The grinding you hear are the gears churning as policy makers try to fit fast-changing technologies and competitive markets into regulatory boxes built for analog technologies and monopoly markets,” says Tom Tauke, evp of public affairs, policy and communications for Verizon. Here are five keys issue in play in 2011.


No legislation yet, but this is one issue that both sides of the aisle can support, so watch for bills to come early and often in the new year. The Federal Trade Commission set off a firestorm with a Dec. 1 report in which it floated the idea of a Do Not Track practice. Commerce is set to deliver its own report in the coming weeks. The ad industry, ahead of both reports and a House hearing, began rolling out its self-regulatory system last October.


The FCC is dead set on reclaiming a good portion of the broadcast spectrum to fill an impending wireless spectrum crunch. To compel some TV stations to voluntarily give up spectrum, the FCC voted 5-0 to explore a proposed rule to allow two or more TV stations to share spectrum currently held by a single station. But first, Congress has to act and free the way for incentive auctions.


Everything about this Internet issue is controversial: the timing, the concept and the FCC’s authority to regulate the Internet. (Not to mention its use of the term “net neutrality” is an oxymoron, in that it means regulating Internet traffic so that Internet providers can’t block or slow down legal content). It’s all headed for a vote at the Federal Communications Commission on Dec. 21 (a date when Congress will be recessed) and a turf war in Congress. If Congress doesn’t stop it, expect a company such as AT&T to file a lawsuit.


Media ownership rules aren’t high on the FCC’s list of priorities, but the FCC is expected to take up the rules next year per the quadrennial review mandated by Congress. Broadcasters and newspapers would like to see the commission grant more TV duopolies and allow cross-ownership in markets outside the top 20. Don’t hold your breath: Chances are nothing will change. In the meantime, the FCC is closing in on the review of Comcast’s $30 billion deal with NBC Universal.


Retransmission consent negotiations between cable companies and broadcasters don’t often end in signal blackouts, but when they do, it causes a ruckus. The most recent standoff (16 days) between Fox and Cablevision brought renewed vigor to advocates of retransmission reform. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) drafted legislation and held a hearing. The FCC just announced it will open a proceeding, likely to happen in the new year.