Primetime Upfront: Too Early to Call


New York -- The primetime upfront market's bargaining
is due to run from late May into July, so buyers and sellers are reluctant to guess at the
size of the cable and broadcast volume shares yet.

Although there appeared to be some disagreement as to what
role the Summer Olympic Games -- taking place in September, instead of the usual July
through August period -- might play, industry sources seemed to agree that cross-media
selling would play a bigger role.

Buyers like McCann-Erickson WorldGroup executive vice
president Bill Cella and Young & Rubicam Inc. executive vice president Bob Igiel said
it was too soon to project client budgets, much less rates or dollar volume.

Last year, cable's primetime upfront topped $3.8
billion, up a record $1 billion.

Cella, for one, hinted that offering an estimate could
undermine his agency's bargaining position.

Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc. added a new integrated-sales
wrinkle, via one-stop-shopping World Championship Wrestling packages encompassing cable
coverage on Turner Network Television and TBS Superstation, online and the monthly WCWMagazine, Turner Entertainment Group sales and marketing president Joe Uva said.

Elsewhere, various sources felt that the family genre could
encounter tougher-than-usual negotiations. As in the kids' segment, Fox Family
Channel may face buyer resistance in the adult upfront, The Myers Group LLC senior vice
president Joe Mandese said, because "[the buyers] are going to want some proof"
of ratings strength. Despite schedule revamps, "[The network] really hasn't
delivered on their promise in adults or kids."

Fox Family and Odyssey, A Henson & Hallmark
Entertainment Network executives felt otherwise, citing ratings gains.