Potential WGA Strike: Media agencies comment

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With Writers Guild of America writers poised to strike as early as today, we asked more media agencies: If this strike happens, what would it mean to buying, planning, make-goods, etc.
How would this affect make-goods and business in general in the first month, second month and beyond?

Remember, the current contract between WGA and The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) expired at midnight 11/1. There was a meeting of all members scheduled at the LA Convention Center last night at 7pm PT to provide updates on negotiations and the guild’s options. No deal has been done yet-even with the federal mediators involved since Friday.


Said Rino Scanzoni, GroupM Chief Investment Officer and Mediaedge:cia NA Chairman: "There will be no real change in the short term. Most networks have stockpiled scripts. A long strike could have implications for mid-season shows and next years’ development. From an advertiser perspective there should be no fallout, so the only financial implications would be reduced revenue if there were ratings shortfalls."

Andy Donchin, Carat Americas Director of Broadcast Buying, notes that this has happened before in 1988 and the industry got through it. "We’re going to work with the networks-it’s very hard to duplicate the reach that television provides us, so in the best case scenario, we’d like to stay within television and we will find out ways to do that." Obviously, as he also pointed out, lower-rated, unscripted make-goods are not the substitute for expensive, scripted fare bought in the upfront. So Carat will address that, too. Agencies don’t want to only make sure they are getting their clients the reach and ratings points, but are also getting the same value that they paid for in the upfront.

Steve Lanzano, MPG COO, tells TVBR they are already giving clients some contingency plans, but the bottom line is what the length of the strike is going to be. Most don’t think it will last a month, but if it does, indeed, there will be really no big hits. Late Night will take a bit of a hit, but it won’t be great. But a lot of the shows have stockpiled their scripts. In December you’ve got a lot of Holiday shows, repeats, etc. "But when you start to get into Jan-Feb and there’s no new programming…already that marketplace is looking at significant premiums in terms of scatter," Lanzano admits. "With ratings plus C3, when you start doing all of these repeats and reality shows, that C3 goes away. Therefore there is going to be so much less inventory in the marketplace and clearly the market is going to get tighter. There are going to be more and more make-goods."

Nielsen spokesperson Jack Loftus tells TVBR the data will be there consistently-strike or not: "We report. They decide.  How the data are used in commerce is up to the buyers and sellers. Our job is to provide the best data possible.  Both sides have asked us to report the data these ways (commercial ratings, live, DVR delayed, etc.). So we will continue to do so, strike or no."