Television Admakers Worrying about Those `Fidgety' Viewers / Shivering at New Technology

Article excerpt

NEW YORK (AP) - When was the last time you sat down and watched a network television show from start to finish without changing channels?

Admakers say it's happening less often and they blame declining program quality, the proliferation of cable and independent stations and technological innovations such as video cassette recorders and remote control.

Their real concern is you won't be there for their commercial.

Technology alone has spawned a lexicon that sends shivers through creative departments up and down Madison Avenue.

Words like zapping. Zipping. And, thanks to a new study by the advertising agency J. Walter Thompson USA, flipping.

They describe the latest defenses viewers have against commercials and programs that bother or bore them.

Zapping is what happens when you change the channel to avoid a commercial. Zipping requires the assistance of a VCR, and describes what occurs when you use the ""fast-forward'' control to slip pasta recorded commercial.

But the Thompson study, based on 1,881 telephone interviews with adults 18 and older, said only 9 percent of television viewers admitted to zapping commercials. It said zipping occurs in about 18 percent of all households with VCRs.

More prevalent than either of these, the study said, is flipping: switching channels at any time.

It said 34 percent of those surveyed change channels during a show for various reasons, ranging from those who switch simply because they get bored to others who switch almost constantly ""samplingbits and pieces of different programs.''

The study said it found flipping occured in roughly the same proportion in all types of programming - feature films, dramas, sitcoms, adventures, mysteries and sports - and in both daytime and prime evening viewing periods.

And it predicted flipping likely would increase as more viewers got cable television and more sets were equipped with remote control.

The development has significant implications for admakers. …