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TV Note: 2/19/02

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

A few more words from our sponsors

If you think television networks are giving you longer breaks to prepare a sandwich or visit the bathroom, it's not just your imagination.

The level of TV "clutter" -- the commercials, public service announcements and promotions that interrupt regular programming -- continues to grow. During early morning, daytime and local news, the "clutter" levels reached an all-time high last year, according to a report put out by advertising industry trade groups.

Daytime is the most commercial-clogged, with just under 21 minutes in a typical hour of programming. The level has reached 18 minutes in early morning, and 17:10 for local news.

In prime time, the clutter level slightly decreased, from 16:17 in 2000 to 16:08 last year.

Clutter levels concern the advertising industry, which figures the more commercials that are stuffed into an hour, the less chance their particular message will be remembered by viewers.

The advertising time continues to increase, but so slowly that many viewers don't really notice, said one expert, Marc Goldstein of the advertising firm Mindshare.

In the past few years, promotional time has also intruded on the programming, with networks often flashing promotional announcements about upcoming shows on the screen.

NBC shows the most commercials and promotions in prime time, while ABC airs the fewest.

The report measured programming during one week in May and one week in November, as monitored by the company Competitive Media Reporting.

(David Bauder, Associated Press)

New WTAE anchor

Channel 4 has hired a new weekend morning anchor, replacing the temporary fill-ins who have anchored the program since Ellen Gamble returned to reporting on traffic weekday mornings last April.

Whitney Drolen, weekday morning anchor at WVVA in Bluefield, W.Va., will join WTAE on March 4 to anchor weekend mornings and report three days a week.

According to her bio on the WVVA Web site, Drolen is a native of Southern California and former child actress who used money she won competing on "Hollywood Squares" to fund her college education at Chapman University.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

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