Friday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

TV Networks Fight Drug-Ad Measure (WSJ)
“Advertising costs are deductible to any company as a business expense. The plan being considered by Rep. Rangel’s Ways and Means committee would eliminate the deduction with respect to prescription drug advertising,” writes Martin Vaughan.

Big media seek 21st century business models (Reuters)
“Media moguls at this week’s Sun Valley conference have spent as much time discussing how to reconfigure business models disrupted by the Web as they have worrying about the weak economy,” reports Yinka Adegoke.

Zucker Says Marketplace Has Reached Bottom (B&C)
Ben Grossman writes: “NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker said Thursday that while the overall marketplace is still challenged, he thinks it may have bottomed out. ‘It’s still quite uncertain and we don’t really see the full recovery we are all hoping for,’ he said.  ’It’s still tough out there, but I think we have seen a bottom.’”

The Financial Times and New York Times make further syndication deals (Editors Weblog)
“Both the Financial Times and the New York Times have announced their international syndications will include additional countries. The FT has confirmed content sharing arrangements with publications based in Turkey, France, and South Korea,” writes Christie Silk.

NBC Reveals Displeasure as U.S.O.C. Unveils Plan (NYT)
Richard Sandomir writes: “The head of NBC Sports said Thursday that he broke off talks in April about combining the Olympic channel that it partly owns with the one being planned by the United States Olympic Committee.”

Monday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories on the media industry:

‘Tonight Show’ Audience a Decade Younger (NYT)
“In Mr. O’Brien’s first month as host, the median age of “Tonight Show” viewers has fallen by a decade — to 45 from 55, a startling shift in such a short time. This audience composition means advertisers can now address almost exclusively young viewers on “Tonight,” and NBC is already contemplating a shift in how it sells the show,” writes Bill Carter.

Springer’s daily Welt dreams of going international – again (Reuters)

“German publisher Axel Springer plans to launch an international weekly edition of its flagship daily, Die Welt, in a 48-page tabloid format starting February 2010. Springer is still mulling distribution options but the paper will likely be available from airlines,” writes Nicola Leske.

Just the Messenger: Focuses on Celebrity of Journalism (WP)
On the newly launched website, Howard Kurtz writes: “Mediaite paints with a colorful palette, even if its hues will appeal mainly to journalists and those who obsess over them. By hiring bloggers who worked for Mediabistro and the Huffington Post, Abrams has put together a sassy critique of media missteps and foibles, an overall take not driven mainly by ideology.”

Grey’s, Wives on Hulu from today

Starting today Disney content will go live on Hulu, consumating a deal that was struck earlier this year to join the two-year venture with NBC Universal, News Corp and Providence Equity Partners.

The first few shows include popular fare from ABC such as Grey’s Anatomy,  Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty. This means Hulu is going from strength to strength in locking down its leadership as the place for watching TV on the Web.

Part of the attraction of Hulu is that it is free for U.S. residents, since most of the content can be watched for free over the air in the U.S. But we wouldn’t be surprised if Hulu’s owners added a paid service as part of the TV Everywhere initiative players like Time Warner have been promoting. Such a ‘paid-for’ service would actually be free if the customer is already a paying cable/satellite TV subscriber.

Conan O’Brien plans to chip away at Intel — again

Who says lightning never strikes twice? Conan O’Brien, famous for finding humor in the mundane, is set to revisit Intel Corp on Thursday’s “The Tonight Show” — two years after the talk-show host devised a memorable 2007 skit spoofing the Silicon Valley chipmaker.

An Intel spokeswoman declined to talk about the details but said the upcoming segment was part of a broader Intel sponsorship of O’Brien’s new show on NBC. O’Brien took over the Burbank, California-based show from Jay Leno on June 1.

Financial details of the sponsorship weren’t disclosed by Intel, which noted that “this partnership leverages O’Brien’s unique ability to humorously convey to his viewers Intel’s unique personality, cutting-edge technology and futuristic innovations.”

Same old song: Ad spending forecast cut yet again

So how low can it go? One percent? Three percent? Five percent? Let’s try a decline of 6.9 percent — since that’s the latest forecast for global advertising spending from ZenithOptimedia.

To the surprise of few, the agency, part of French advertising group Publicis, revised downward its outlook for 2009, predicting that only Internet ad spending now looks like it will rise for the year.

“Since we released our last forecasts in December the global ad market has taken a substantial turn for the worse,” said ZenithOptimedia. (Back then, the agency was calling for a flat market).

Making the grade: Adweek out with agency report cards

Adweek is out today with its annual ad agency report cards — and it looks like nobody took home an “A” for 2008. The trade publication covers 25 companies, picked based on size and influence. Agencies are judged on creative performance, management and revenue growth profitability (these final two factors were a challenge in 2008 for obvious reasons).

Top marks for 2008 (in this case “B+”) went to Crispin Porter + Bogusky; Goodby, Silverstein & Partners; The Martin Agency; Publicis USA; and Wieden + Kennedy.

Ogilvy and Draft FCB were handed “C-” grades. Here’s what Adweek said, in part, about Draft FCB (which, it should be noted, rang up a bit of good news last week in landing the Miller Lite account).

Les Moonves: No price cuts here!

CBS’s stock may be in the tank (now under $4 a share),  but Chief Executive Les Moonves is still pretty darn optimistic. That may be because his network — home to the “CSI” franchise, “Survivor,” and “The Mentalist” — is the only one of the big four that’s been pulling in more prime-time viewers. For months it has been crushing ABC, NBC, and Fox in the ratings game.

What’s the payoff? CBS won’t have to make wholesale changes to its 2009-10 schedule and should be able to hang on to more advertising dollars than its rivals,  Moonves told an audience at the Deutsche bank Deutsche Bank Annual Media & Telecommunications Conference.

Moonves figures CBS will need to shoot six fewer pilots than it did a year ago, and bring only 2 or 3 new shows to air next season. He also says that with known hits — like “The Mentalist” — and few question marks about its schedule the network should fare well in this spring’s upfront market.

And a final word from our Super Bowl sponsor

Did you feel like all you saw in the first half of the Super Bowl — well, besides Pittsburgh’s James Harrison taking his interception 100 yards to the house — were commercials? Certainly there were a lot of them. In fact, a record amount of commercial time ran over the entire course of this year’s Super Bowl.

According to a just issued report from TNS Media Intellegence, NBC aired 45 minutes, 10 seconds of advertising messages, including paying sponsors, NFL messages and in-house promotions.

Outside of NBC’s promos, four companies accounted for 40 percent of the total paid ad time: PepsiCo, Anheuser-Busch Inbev, Viacom and General Electric, which, of course, is the majority owner of NBC. But TNS warns not to read too much into the big GE ad buy.

Super Bowl Sunday!

The Super Bowl — that little football game that is watched by a few people and attracts a bit of interest from advertisers — has come and gone. Was it a blockbuster year? We’ll let you decide, but clearly companies had more at stake this time around than usual.

Shelling out up to $3 million for a 30-second spot, when each day thousands more people are handed pinkslips, can’t sell their house, can’t stand to open their 401Ks and are in no mood whatsoever to be told by some CMO that they need to rush out and buy some beer or soda or potato chip or whatever is, well, a bit risky.

So how did they do? Take a look at a handful below. Let us know you’re thoughts. After all, you’re the target audience.

Super Bowl Sunday? Try Super Bowl Friday

When you’re spending up to $3 million for 30 seconds of Super Bowl time, you really, really want to get your money’s worth. So what do you do? Hold press briefings, drag executives out for interviews, hold contests, and, of course, post the commercials on YouTube even before they air on game day. Gone, mostly, are the days when advertisements would actually debut at the Super Bowl.

Fair enough.

So just pretend it’s Sunday and check out some of the big day’s commercials…