Friday, May 08, 2009

Where does a bear hold a press conference? 

When it's Barry Bear, you'd think the answer was "any place he wants." And given they don't want to get treated like a non-TARP creditor, network executives are trying not to say this too loudly. But we get a lesson in opportunity costs from today's Hollywood Reporter:
By and large, they personally forked out for his campaign, they voted for him, and they know he is capable of boosting TV ratings just by making an appearance.

But executives at the Big Four broadcast networks are seething behind the scenes that President Obama has cost them about $30 million in cumulative ad revenue this year with his three primetime news conference pre-emptions.

Now top network execs quietly are hoping that Fox's well-publicized rejection of the president's April 29 presser will serve as precedent for denying future White House requests for prime airtime.

"We will continue to make our decisions on White House requests on a case-by-case basis, but the Fox decision gives us cover to reject a request if we feel that there is no urgent breaking news that is going to be discussed," said one network exec, who, like all, would not speak for attribution fearing repercussions from the administration.

"If the president wants to make it tough for your network, he can," the exec added.

Another network executive confided, "Nobody wants to take on the White House, so we'll have to tiptoe through this."
The graph shows that there are diminishing returns to the press conferences as well, but the exclusives on talk shows are quite valuable for them, so you have another reason to not anger the Obamas.

Clearly the networks carry press conferences for something other than revenue maximization. Network news is mainly for prestige. But like any other good, prestige competes for resources with other goods, like profit. Fox has a #1 cable news station that allows it to try to serve both goals better than the other networks can, so its loss of prestige of the news conference is lower.

They put Michelle Obama in soft places like Sesame Street. Why you wouldn't parade her around on the bigger shows is beyond me. I would think the ad revenue books would be enough to keep the President's spin show on prime time.

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