By James Wells

SYDNEY: Sony Australia corporate marketing communications manager, Tim Rich, has severely criticised a report published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, which suggested the consumer electronics company has reduced the breadth of its television advertising commitment in Australia.

In an article titled Ad squeeze bruises Nine – McGuire tries to stem losses, the marketing editor of the Sydney Morning Herald, Paul McIntyre, claimed newly appointed Nine Network chief executive, Eddie McGuire, was visiting media buyers this week to secure revenue for the television broadcaster, which has been competing vigorously for advertising with the Seven Network and Ten Network.

In the article, McIntyre said some of the biggest advertisers in the country, including Sony Australia, have opted for two-network buying agreements with Seven and Ten.

"I would like to confirm that the comments made by Paul McIntyre in today’s Sydney Morning Herald are categorically not true,” Rich told this afternoon.

According to executives in the marketing industry, McIntyre received several calls from the Nine Network regarding the inaccuracy before 8.00am this morning.

"I spoke to McIntyre at about 8 this morning and he’d already been bombarded by angry calls from Nine," one executive said.

By failing to book advertising on the Nine Network, Sony Australia would miss out on important sporting events including the AFL and NRL football competitions, international cricket one day matches and Test matches as well as the Commonwealth Games.

“In 2006, we will continue to support all the free-to-air-networks and they all remain a very important medium in our communication strategy for the coming year," Rich said.

Sony, as well as competitors LG Electronics, Panasonic, Samsung, are expected to spend over $20 million on television advertising this year, which will include several campaigns on free to air networks which capitalise on local sporting events as well as the Commonwealth Games and World Cup Soccer events.

Sony Australia managing director, Shusuke Oshima, confirmed last week that the company will be reviving its successful Bravia LCD television campaign which helped the brand secure 25 per cent market share in the category shortly after launch.

‘The Bouncing Balls’ advertisement to promote Bravia LCDs, which was directed by Danish director, Nicolai Fuglsig, features 250,000 multi-coloured superballs bouncing down the streets of San Francisco. The soundtrack to the advertisement, performed by Jose Gonzalez, was released as a single in January 2006 and immediately became a Top Ten hit in the UK and Ireland.