Universal Done as Upfront Picks Up

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The cable-upfront sales pace picked up steam again late this past week,
although ad-agency buyers and networks continued to lock horns over rate
increases.

Universal Television Group claimed to be the first cable operation to
conclude its 2003-04 upfront business. President of ad sales Jeff Lucas said
Thursday, "We're done -- locked up since [June 5]."

Universal's volume rose by "almost 30%" and its average cost-per-thousand
(CPM) increases "averaged 11.1%," he said, adding that 37 accounts made deals
across USA Network and Sci Fi Channel.

Moreover, he added, Universal "booked a few million dollars on Trio" via
packaging with its top two networks. Trio thus played its first upfront role, he
noted.

At Lifetime Television, executive vice president of ad sales Lynn Picard
said, "We're down to the last few deals."

Procter & Gamble Co. was said to have done a number of cable deals,
including a hefty Discovery Networks U.S. cross-platform renewal, dominated by
significant ties to The Learning Channel's Trading Spaces for such brands
as Swiffer. Discovery executives were unreachable at press time.

Jack Myers Reports Thursday estimated cable's upfront volume at $5.55
billion, up 20% from the year-ago $4.6 billion.

But JMR editor Jack Myers is projecting that, "When all is done in two
to three weeks, it will be $5.8 billion to $6 billion."

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