TS News - MSNBC Readies For Launch

TELE-satellit News, 10 July 1996

MSNBC Readies For Launch
  SAN FRANCISCO, California, USA, 96/07/10 (SHOPTALK) -- Although it's not
scheduled to debut until the 15th, MSNBC has already begun a marketing war
with its major competitor, Turner Broadcasting System's Cable News Network.

  Since last month, a billboard across from CNN's Atlanta headquarters has
plugged MSNBC with the message, "The future of cable news from the people
you know."  The billboard, which will remain until the international throng
from the Olympic Games has left Atlanta, is just a taste of the fierce
battle that television viewers can expect from both CNN and MSNBC.

  Just last week, CNN hired New York Agency Deutsch to design its new
campaign. "From time to time, it's useful to get an outside perspective,"
said Turner sales president Steve Heyer. "If you spend all your time talking
to yourself, every now and then you miss something."  However, Heyer said,
it's premature to elaborate on Deutsch's assignment. "I wouldn't conclude
that anything special is going to happen, except the thoughtful, appropriate
evolution of one of the world's best brands," he said.  

  The channel is promoting itself on TV too, easy when you also own several
other networks. This has been attracting complaints, however, from NBC
network affiliate that are worried people will switch to MSNBC from their
channels, thus depriving them from viewers. In a letter to affiliates last
week, NBC Network president Neil Braun wrote that the web will continue to
air several types of promo spots for MSNBC, including ads that feature NBC
News talent who will appear on the cable web.

  Affiliates first realized there was a problem during the NBA finals, when
viewers were steered over to CNBC for post-game shows, instead of staying
tuned for local newscasts.

  Although Braun was sympathetic to affiliate concerns, doing nothing to
change the situation hasn't helped to appease angry general managers.  "He
didn't do anything to address the concerns we have," said Mike Carson, GM at
WHDH in Boston. "We have no problem at all with the concept of MSNBC...Our
problem is in the way they're trying to market the launch of it.  We just
can't reconcile them going on our air and encouraging our viewers to watch
our stars on another channel." 

  By: Don Fitzpatrick
  Source: Shoptalk, http://www.tvspy.com/ 

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