Fox cuts back on upfront carbon usage

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NEW YORK -- Fox upfront-goers Thursday will see proof that the network is making good on corporate parent News Corp.'s promise last week to address climate change issues and do business in a far more eco-friendly fashion.

In fact, the Fox fall programming presentation and the following party will be carbon-neutral for the first time as the broadcast network made a broad array of changes in the organization and setup of this year's event, network and company sources said.

"We see the Fox upfront as a test bed for more energy-efficient productions 'across the company,' " a News Corp. spokeswoman said. "We're taking a number of important steps at this event -- but we're still only at the beginning."

News Corp. has said its 2006 global carbon footprint -- the summary of its emissions from all operations in 52 countries -- amounted to 641,150 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. The upfront's footprint was measured at 177 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, a News Corp. spokeswoman said Wednesday. That figure includes the effects of electricity usage, fuel burned to create it and transportation emissions.

While some of Fox's initiatives tied to the upfront don't directly reduce the event's carbon footprint, like the use of recycled paper, they promote an eco-friendly production. Others, like the use of biodiesel generators, do reduce the carbon footprint.

In one key change from the past, Fox is powering its upfront presentation and its party tent with biodiesel generators as biodiesel is a renewable energy source and cleaner than petroleum diesel, according to the Fox spokeswoman.

The network also focused on using space in freight trucks as economically as possible and often combined multiple vendors' equipment into a single truck to reduce the number of vehicles used for its production needs, she said.

Similarly, the Fox talent relations team and other staff and crew are using hybrid vehicles or mini coaches and vans, which allow for more passengers per vehicle, for airport and other runs, while energy-conserving LED lighting, which consumes as much as 85% less electricity, is used for the upfront presentation where possible.

All printed materials for the upfront -- from napkins and registration envelopes to badges, schedules and party tickets -- were printed on recycled paper and used soy-based inks whenever possible, the Fox spokeswoman said. Plastic holders for name badges will be donated to nonprofits for reuse. And upfront invitations and talent correspondence were sent electronically.

To further reduce paper use, souvenir photos of advertisers with network talent won't be handed out in the form of Polaroid photos inside paper sleeves as in the past. Instead, all photos will be available digitally for download or printing, with attendees receiving a card -- made of recycled paper -- with a number that will enable them to access the photos, according to the Fox spokeswoman.

Upfront DVDs are packaged in a paper sleeve made of recycled materials.

Meanwhile, the Fox organizing team made sure the site of the presentation -- the City Center Theatre on 55th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues in midtown Manhattan -- is within walking distance from the following party at the Wollman Rink in Central Park, which is close to the park's 59th Street and Sixth Avenue entrance. The network is encouraging attendees to walk, reducing the amount of vehicle use.

Partygoers also will eat and drink out of glassware and China rather than disposable plates and cups, with locally grown organic food, which reduces transportation mileage, on offer.

And attendees will see the debut of Fox-branded carpets that the network plans to reuse at its future upfronts, the spokeswoman said.

Upfront-goers might also notice that Fox reduced the amount of signage, with remaining signs made from environmentally friendly materials.

After the extravaganza, Green Seal-certified cleaning materials will play their role in making the Fox upfront more environmentally friendly.

And since the Big Apple doesn't have a citywide recycling program, Fox hired its own vendors to recycle all possible metal, plastic, glass and paper.

Since not all emissions can be avoided, Fox is using carbon offsets -- financial tools that offset emissions -- for air travel for Fox employees, production staff and talent.

News Corp. plans to aggressively reduce its greenhouse gas emissions during the coming years and become carbon-neutral by 2010 (HR 5/10).

The media conglomerate also has vowed to raise awareness for the dangers of climate change with its partners and audiences. As such, the printed materials that advertisers receive at today's upfront will include a summary of key changes that make this year's event more eco-friendly.

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