A sharp rise in ratings brought a rise in asking price. When National Broadcasting Company decided in 1970 to schedule a series around the comedian Flip Wilson—then a relatively unknown quantity—network time salesmen began by selling 30-second slots for about $35,000 each. As the program won unexpected success and climbing ratings, the asking price went to $40,000, $45,000, $50,000, and beyond. Everything at the network seemed to revolve around the yes's and no's. A low-rating program had become a menace. Wrong demographics were a menace. To maximize income, these had to be sloughed off. Pressure to this end came from sales executives, who received bonuses based on sales income; from affiliates, whose local sales were likewise affected by ratings and demographics; from stockholders, whose stock prices could reflect rating fluctuations; from top network executives, whose contracts had stock-option clauses. The system had become a closed-circuit escalation machine.