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Obama Speech To Cost Networks

The primetime slot requested by President Obama for a news conference marking his 100th day in office is going to cost the broadcast networks millions of dollars in lost ads.According to the latest ad pricing data from Nielsen, the Wednesday slot between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. generates some $21.5 million for the big four.

Fox has opted out of airing the presser, saying it will run the event on its cable news networks, Fox News Channel and Fox Business News instead.

ABC, CBS and NBC will air it commercial-free.

The event is a money loser for the networks not simply in lost airtime but also in the cost of the time to rejigger all the commercials, which will have to be accommodated elsewhere. The scheduling of spots is a finely tuned art, with advertisers negotiating their placement right down to their position within each pod, in addition to selecting which shows on which nights they want to advertise on.

Broadcast network owners are already seeing ad revenue declines this year and can ill afford to give up valuable airtime during a recession, while cable entertainment networks get to continue uninterrupted.

The press conference, however, will no doubt give a lift to cable news networks planning their own coverage of the first 100 days of Barack Obama’s presidency.