Global approach required of TV biz, ad exec warns

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The one-two punch of the recession and the new-media revolution is radically changing how producers and distributors operate, Martin Sorrell, CEO of global advertising agency WPP, told a packed auditorium Tuesday at MIPTV.

Outlining his take on the state of the industry, Sorrell said a global multiplatform reach is essential if companies hope to weather the economic storm and emerge stronger.

"If I were a media owner — and in particular if I were in one medium in one country, such as ITV in the U.K. — I would be very nervous," he said. "Italy's Mediaset is a good example of a company that used to be in one country and one medium but successfully expanded — first to Spain, buying Telecinco — and then diversified into content with the acquisition of producer Endemol."

Sorrell predicted that the downturn will continue through this year and that the recovery next year will be "pretty anemic," but he was more upbeat about prospects in developing nations.

"Latin America, particularly Brazil, is defying gravity at the moment," he said. "China and India have been touched by the downturn, and growth has slowed, but there are signs that China is speeding up again. The decline in Russia is quite significant, but even there, there remains some vibrancy."

Sorrell said the recession might have the greatest effect on production, with content producers forced to trim costs and be more creative in financing programs.

"Production models are too expensive and will have to change," he said, suggesting that more partnerships among ad agencies, talent and content producers will be the wave of the future. (partialdiff)
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