NDN Blog

Television leaves the Broadcast Age, continued

The Times offers a smart report from the "upfront" marketplace in New York.  It emphasizes two of the major themes of our work at NPI - that our most important media, television, is going though rapid and significant change, and that we are entering a media age much more participatory than couch potatoey. 

As the big agencies get ready for the biggest week of the year for the biggest advertising medium, changes are coming that can only be called, well, big.

The medium is of course broadcast television, which remains a powerful way to peddle products despite the recent inroads made by alternative ways to watch programs, which include the Internet, digital video recorders, cellphones, DVD players and video on demand.

Beginning today, the, er, um, big broadcasters will reveal their prime-time lineups for the new season in a week of lavish, star-filled presentations at Manhattan landmarks like Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden.

For years, the presentations during what is known as upfront week — so named because the agencies decide to buy billions of dollars of commercial time before the fall season starts — have remained essentially the same. Season after season, the spiels were mostly confined to rote reiterations of the value of buying spots on broadcast television.

But the growing popularity of the alternatives to watching TV on TV sets is forcing the networks to change decades of habits.

For instance, ABC is scheduled to describe at its upfront presentation tomorrow an extensive promotional initiative called “ABC start here” in which TV is just one medium among many. The campaign is intended to help guide consumers through the maze of devices on which they can watch ABC entertainment and news shows.

“It doesn’t matter — TV, online, iTunes, whatever,” said Michael Benson, executive vice president for marketing at the ABC Entertainment unit of ABC, part of the Walt Disney Company.

“They have control,” Mr. Benson said of viewers, “and we’re not going to fight that. We want to make it easy for them to get what they want, where they want, when they want.”

At the same time, ABC and the four other big broadcast networks are working on methods to hold the attention of TV viewers throughout the commercial breaks that interrupt the shows they want to see.

That is becoming increasingly important for two reasons. One is that more viewers are watching shows delayed rather than live, using TiVo and other DVRs. Research indicates those viewers are more likely to fast-forward through spots than those who watch live TV...


“We do focus groups with consumers 18 to 34, the most desired demographic, the most tech-savvy, and their media consumption habits are changing,” said Michael Kelley, a partner in the entertainment media and communications practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “With that comes receptivity to new forms of advertising, provided the networks get closer to viewers’ interests.”

To do that, Mr. Kelley said, the broadcasters must change their focus to “engagement,” or involving viewers in ads, from “impressions,” the total audience exposed to commercials. He likened the challenge to how Google persuaded computer users that ads could be useful rather than annoying, by promising that only relevant ads would be displayed alongside search results.

LA Governor blunt about DC-Katrina experience

In an interview with the Washington Post, LA Governor Kathleen Blanco was blunt when discussing her dealings with Washington, DC after Hurricane Katrina. From the interview:

"It's all political," she began. "You know, this country's run on politics. But when a disaster comes that is not what you expect, you expect a human reaction, not a political reaction. And I will tell you, there's a void," Blanco drawled, "a total void of human response. And it's extremely discouraging as an American citizen. It makes me angry and extremely disappointed."

Though it wasn't enough, Governor Blanco recognized the President's efforts to bring much-needed funds to her state. She then offered rather alarming commentary on her experience with the 109th Congress:

"I absolutely hated the idea of having to go to Washington, D.C., to deal with the last Congress, because their attitude was brutal," she said. "The old Congress made us feel like we were pretty stupid for standing in the way of the hurricane and that we were asking for far too much assistance.

"They ignored the fact that it wasn't the hurricane, per se, that caused our damage," Blanco explained in a forceful, yet measured, tone. "It was the failure, an engineering failure, of the federal levees that caused our enormous grief. If we had not had levee failures, people would have walked home, and today we would not even be sitting here talking about it." She did say the new Congress was "definitely more interested in trying to help us."

President focuses on CIR in Radio Address

President Bush used his weekly radio address to tout comprehensive immigration reform. From the address (listen here and read the Spanish version here):

We must address all elements of this problem together, or none of them will be solved at all. We must not repeat the mistakes that caused previous efforts at immigration reform to fail. So I support a comprehensive immigration reform bill that accomplishes five clear objectives:

First, America must continue our efforts to improve security at our borders.

Second, we must hold employers to account for the workers they hire, by providing better tools for them to verify documents and work eligibility.

Third, we must create a temporary worker program that takes pressure off the border by providing foreign workers a legal and orderly way to enter our country to fill jobs that Americans are not doing.

Fourth, we must resolve the status of millions of illegal immigrants who are here already, without amnesty and without animosity.

Finally, we must honor the great American tradition of the melting pot. Americans are bound together by our shared ideals, an appreciation of our history, and an ability to speak and write the English language. And the success of our country depends upon helping newcomers assimilate into our society and embrace our common identity as Americans.

Discriminatory Texas ordinance shows need for comprehensive immigration reform

An article from the Washington Post sheds light on yet another local law attempting to fix our broken immigration system the wrong way. This time, the spotlight is on Farmers Branch, TX, a Dallas suburb, which is facing a vote to keep an ordinance like others around the country "prohibiting landlords from renting to most illegal immigrants."

Some residents of Farmer's Branch blame the inability of the federal government to act on this issue as the reason for taking such a stand. But we all know that Harry Reid and Senate Democrats are attempting to put forth a comprehensive plan, one that doesn't evoke discriminatory views or bigotry.

Creating a broader context for the coming debate on trade and globalization

The Washington Post weighs in with an editorial detailing the victories Democrats won in the new bi-partisan trade deal (read our statement here). 

While we should all be pleased with the spirit of this deal, it would be advisable for those wanting to garner votes to create a bigger context for the coming debate.  The data is very clear here - in this decade globalization has been very good for those with capital and for American corporations, but has not been so good for American workers and families. 

A vital strategic goal for those of us who believe in the benefits of liberalization must be to help our elected leaders come up with an agenda that successfully reverses the sluggish job growth and weak income and wage growth of our time.  To believe that the American people will accept the current way the economy is unfolding is niave.  Poll after poll, and the core economic data show that for about two-thirds of all Americans the economy is not what they want it to be.  They are losing faith that this century's global economy has the capacity to give them the opportunity and upward mobility all generations of Americans have to come to expect.  Making the American economy work for more Americans is one of the most important governing challenges of our time, and one NDN has been relentlessly focused on for the past several years in our Globalization Initiative.  

So in the days ahead I think it would be wise for those looking to build public support for this new trade policy to talk about what their strategy is bring greater prosperity to our workers and kids.  We've offered many ideas - raise the minimum wage, reform our immigration system, put a laptop in every backback, bring broadband to all Americans, fix our health care system so all Americans can have adequate insurance and good care, give our workers the option of card check, adopt the Speaker's innovation agenda, significantly increase funding for the teaching of science and math in all schools - the list goes on and on.  And it is time for once and for all to stop throwing out "TAA - trade adjustment assistance" as a sop that everyone knows isn't an adequate response to the realities we face today. 

The conversation about trade cannot happen in a vacuum.  Unlike the 1990s, globalization is neither seen to be, or is, working for a majority of Americans.  If the American people and their elected leaders are being asked to support greater liberalization, they must be told in clear terms what the strategy is to help them achieve the American Dream in a much more competitive age.  These conversations need to be linked.  And those looking to build public support for further liberalization need to get serious about offering not just a new trade policy, but a comprehensive economic strategy for America in the 21st century that helps ensure that globalization works for all Americans. 

NDN Statement on the Bi-partisan Agreement on a New Trade Policy

Dr. Robert J. Shapiro, Director of our Globalization Initiative, and I just released the following statement. Feel free to comment below.

We congratulate Speaker Pelosi, Chairmen Baucus and Rangel, the White House and other Congressional leaders - including the New Democrats - for finding common ground and fashioning together a new approach to trade policy.

The agreement shows that this White House and the new Congress are capable of doing what the American people want them to do – come together and offer forward-looking, pragmatic solutions to the tough problems facing our nation today.


This new agreement creates a new and better framework for our trade arrangements, one that will put labor and environmental issues front and center in future trade deals, and no longer relegate these important issues to side agreements. This new path may allow America to once again be a leader in fashioning the new rules of the road for the global economy, a role that up until now has been neglected by the Bush Administration.


This new agreement will be remembered as an historic one if it leads the White House and Congress to forge a new national strategy that seeks prosperity for all Americas in this intensely competitive economic era. Even as the economy as a whole is well positioned to prosper in a time of globalization, too many Americans are struggling to get ahead. By undertaking the necessary governmental actions and making the needed investments in education, skills, technology, infrastructure and communities, America will be able to ensure that our workers and our kids the same broad opportunities that all proceeding generations have enjoyed.  

NDN hosts Cecile Richards in NYC

Last night, NDN held a fantastic reception with Cecile Richards, one of the Founders of our New Politics Institute and the President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. An extremely thoughtful and engaging speaker, Cecile spoke to us on behalf of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She discussed the GOP candidates and how their wavering stances on abortion will harm them during their campaigns, as well as how Americans need to view the debate around abortion as also being about the right and access to contraception. Check out pictures below:

Free Classifieds on Facebook

The New York Times reveals a new venture for Facebook: free classified ads. The new service, entitled Marketplace, will be introduced today and will "allow users to create classified listings in four categories: housing; jobs; for sale, where users can list things like concert tickets and used bikes; and “other,” a catch-all that could include things like solicitations for rides home for the holidays." Targeting who is able to see the ads, the article points out:

Facebook users who create classifieds can choose to show them only to their designated friends on the service, or to anyone in one of their “networks” — their high school, college, company or geographic region. They can choose to make the listings appear on their profile pages, and send them out on “news feeds,” the automatic updates that appear when users log in to the site.

The article also touches on the affect of Facebook's new Marketplace on traditional advertising sources:

Traditional media like college newspapers, which rely to a varying degree on classified ads, may be threatened as well. “If Facebook can provide a larger audience at a lower price than traditional media, people will shift their advertising dollars,” said Daniel A. Jauernig, chief executive of Classified Ventures, a joint venture of five media companies including the Tribune Company and the Washington Post Company.

Pelosi's statement on the trade deal

"Nearly 50 years ago, President John F. Kennedy advanced a new trade policy that cemented Democrats as the party of free and fair trade.  Today, we build on that tradition to announce a new bipartisan breakthrough for fair trade – where we expand opportunities for American businesses, workers and farmers.

Our economic future rests upon our ability to open new markets for U.S. goods and services so that we can continue to capitalize upon the innovative spirit of the American people.  We must also do much more to address the consequences of globalization and how many working families are faced with increased economic insecurity.

Free trade must be fair trade. For that reason, the inclusion of basic, internationally recognized labor and environmental standards in our trade agreements have been long-standing Democratic priority. 

Enforceable labor standards ensure that our trading partners abide by the most fundamental standards of common decency and fairness – prohibitions against child and slave labor, protection from employment discrimination, and the right for workers to form a union.

Similarly, protecting our planet is a core Democratic value and must be reflected in the core of our free trade agreements, not as a side agreement.

Last November, Americans voted for a New Direction, and that includes a right direction on trade – where labor and environmental standards are at least as valued as our financial interests. 

Today marks a new day in trade policy so that we can raise living standards in the U.S. and abroad, expand markets, spur economic growth and uphold strong labor and environmental standards.”

On Iraq

On Iraq, Congress continues to act responsibly, challenging the Administration to offer more than more of the same.  While the bill passed last night may not become law, our country is now in the midst of a large and important debate about an issue of vital national interest, ensuring that whatever the final outcome the process for getting there will be more of the kind imagined by our founders than the "don't worry be happy" approach of the Bush years. 

In a powerful editorial this morning, the Times sums up the events of recent weeks:

The difference between mainstream hawks and mainstream doves on Iraq seems to have boiled down to two months, with House Democrats now demanding visible progress by July while moderate Republicans are willing to give White House policies until September, but no longer, to show results.

Then there is President Bush, who has yet to acknowledge the reality that Congressional Republicans and even administration officials like Defense Secretary Robert Gates now seem to tacitly accept. Three months into Mr. Bush’s troop escalation, there is no real security in Baghdad and no measurable progress toward reconciliation, while American public support for this folly has all but run out.

The really important question now facing Washington is the one Mr. Bush still refuses to address: how, while there is still some time left, to design an exit strategy that contains the chaos in Iraq and minimizes the damage to United States interests when American troops inevitably leave...

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