Skip to main content

CAB Panel Eyes Iraq War's Ad Impact

The Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau's Cable Advertising Conference session
Tuesday labeled "The Prognosis for the 2003-04 TV Marketplace" turned into a
discussion on the potential impact of the planned U.S. war in Iraq and its
impact on the advertising world and the stock market.

Moderator Tyler Mathisen of CNBC's Open Exchange, noting that the
prognosis is being colored by the Iraq-war fears, said, "Advertisers are holding

Bob Pisani, CNBC's Wall Street correspondent, said Wall Street brokers
believe a war with Iraq is "near 100 percent likely."

A recent CNBC program on war's impact on ad spending quoted Jack Myers
editor Jack Myers as anticipating that the impact would not be as
"dramatic" as in the Gulf War and that marketers would in any case want to
increase advertising to increase market share and, thus, profits.

Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. senior media analyst Tom Wolzien told the CAB
audience the ad outlook should not be that big a problem so long as sellers give
"flexibility" to advertisers -- or what Mathisen referred to as "building in an
out," along the lines of the so-called war clause American Express Co. is
negotiating with the media.

"We have to anticipate a hit, but a short-term hit," Wolzien said. But he
dismissed Mathisen's reference to a "buyers' market" by saying, "I don't think
so. There's an increase in scatter pricing, and I don't see why that doesn't

Council of Foreign Relations senior fellow of national-security studies
Lawrence Korb forecast that war is likely to begin "within a month to six weeks
... no later than mid-March."

He painted two scenarios on the war's duration, speculating that it could
last two weeks ("a high probability") or stretch out into street fighting in
Baghdad and biochemical attacks on U.S. troops. The latter "nightmare scenario"
was, in his view, a "low-probability" eventuality. (The Gulf War in 1991 lasted
40 days.)

In his welcoming remarks, CAB CEO Joseph Ostrow said the conference was
themed, "Cable First," in keeping with its premise that the medium should be
considered "first nationally, first regionally and first locally" by the ad
community due to its burgeoning Nielsen Media Research ratings success.

He added that he will be CEO "another six weeks or so," by which time a
successor will presumably be named, although no one was talking names at the