Networks Loathe Prime-Time Press Conferences, But Reject the Idea of Sponsored Press Events

John Consoli of Mediaweek revealed that somebody firmly in the Obama camp thinks it would be a great idea to offset the cost of prime-time presidential press conferences with an official sponsor, as in: "Barack Obama, brought to you live from the White House tonight by Pepsi." The network suits were not impressed with this bizarre notion:

Executives at the Big Four broadcast networks, upset that President Barack Obama has cumulatively cost them more than $30 million in revenue from preempted prime-time programming for three press conferences, say getting advertisers to sponsor future press events as a way to recoup lost revenue isn’t a viable option.

After Fox balked at airing Obama in prime time on April 29, other nets joined in, saying they would consider the same action going forward depending on the event’s relevance. Industry observers wondered why networks couldn’t just get advertiser sponsors. Some suggested an ad prior to the conference and one at the end, with an on-screen logo, appearing during the conference.

But Big Four execs see it differently. Les Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp. said, "We lose more than $3 million a show [when it’s preempted]. No advertiser is going to put up that much money as a sponsor."

MRC's Scott Whitlock suggested that anyone who saw the Robin Williams political comedy "Man of the Year" could remember that Williams joked that candidates should wear the logos of their corporate supporters on their jacket, like a NASCAR driver. It’s funny to imagine Obama standing at the East Room podium in an ad-festooned blazer.

As long as the lame ideas are flowing, imagine network reporters being stuck with product placements. "Thank you, Mr. President. Jake Tapper here for ABC and the new Disney/Pixar movie Up, now in theatres."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis