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May 1, 1997

Pitt works out deal with WTAE for commercials

If you're a WTAE-TV Action News watcher, you've probably seen the recent series of commercials showcasing Pitt's contributions to the community.

If you're the budget-conscious type, you may have wondered: So how much is this costing the University? The answer seems to be: not a whole lot, or at least not as much as it could have cost, thanks to a deal worked out between senior officials at Pitt and the station.

WTAE is producing the six 30-second commercials free of charge, while the University provides the scripts and some footage, and pays for air time. That's not an unusual arrangement. What is unusual is the low price being paid by the University, said Pitt Director of Communications Ken Service.

"Let's just say we're spending a modest number of dollars and getting a good value for our money," Service said.

The series grew out of conversations between Chancellor Mark Nordenberg and Pitt trustee John G. Conomikes, vice president and general manager of the Hearst Corp., WTAE's parent corporation. Jim Hefner, WTAE-TV vice president and general manager, later worked out details with Nordenberg.

Like Pitt's Service, Hefner would not say how much his station and Pitt are spending on the six 30-second commercials.

The four commercials currently being aired highlight: volunteer activities of Pitt faculty and staff, the University's economic impact on the community, the University's research expertise, and community involvement by Pitt personnel, particularly the School of Information Science's efforts to extend Internet access in the Pittsburgh community. Two additional commercials, not yet produced, will focus on the University's academic excellence and alumni accomplishments.

By the end of June, WTAE will have aired the commercials 346 times; 80 percent of the air time is during news programming, Service said.

— Bruce Steele

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