Slump Trickles Down to Local Ops

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The national advertising-sales downturn that started in November now seems to
have worked its way down to the local and spot markets.

The slowdown's ripple effect has radiated from the local broadcast and
basic-cable networks to MSOs and interconnects even though some programmers,
like MTV Networks, have adamantly professed that they haven't been hurt.

Last fall, most MSOs and interconnects were optimistic that the sales
sluggishness wouldn't reach them, at least in any major way. But for many, that
was wishful thinking.

'Off the record, first-quarter sucks!' one cable sales executive griped.
Another added, 'Dot-com is long gone' as a meaningful category.

And a spending slump in local cable's No. 1 category, automotive, contributed
to a poor showing in many markets, although that pain wasn't felt across the
board.

At the end of 2000, Myers Reports Inc. projected that combined local and
spot-cable ad sales would climb 18 percent to $4.31 billion in 2001, surpassing
the 14 percent gain estimated for network cable.

Various cable executives said it remains to be seen whether those levels can
be attained in the months to come.

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