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4A's Conference: Programmers See Limits To Sponsor Content

Three top cable programmers told attendees at the American
Association of Advertising Agency's meeting in Austin
Wednesday that there are limitations on sponsors being able to create their own
programming and get it on the air.

"The creative has to come first. My allegiance is to the
viewers," said Nancy Dubuc, president and general manager of History and Lifetime.
When the ad market is more challenging, you see broadcasters opening themselves
up to different deals with sponsors, she added and on occasion you get the
right idea and the right product and you get "a perfect storm and it all comes

Charlie Collier, president of AMC,
noted that custom content was a difficult business to scale. "The math of its
works when you put thirty second spots in a show. You guys don't need to
create a new 30 second unit for every program."

He added that AMC is not
averse to putting products into its shows like Breaking Bad, when it can be done
organically and fit in with the story and characters.

"There's a real incentive to figure it out," added Marjorie
Kaplan, president of Animal Planet and Science. But she added that her networks
run mainly non-fiction programming and authenticity is important. "You can't
just put cokes in someone's hand or wipe it out with technology."