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Ad Sales Had Record Second-Quarter Drop, Bernstein Says


Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. advertising revenue declined 1.5 percent in the second quarter, the steepest drop since Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. began tracking industry sales five and a half years ago.

A slump in local newspaper and television ads is spreading to national categories, Bernstein analyst Michael Nathanson said in a report today. Nathanson, in New York, has a ``market perform'' rating on CBS Corp., Walt Disney Co. and News Corp., and predicts Time Warner Inc. and Viacom Inc. will outperform the Standard & Poor's 500 Index in the next year.

``Given the ongoing pressure on the U.S. consumer, if back- to-school sales are disappointing, retailers could cut advertising,'' Nathanson wrote. ``The most exposed media to retail advertising are local newspapers, radio networks, radio stations, and TV stations.''

A 10 percent drop in magazine ads in the quarter may be a ``bad omen'' for national TV ads, Nathanson said. Magazines were hurt by shrinking spending from food, pharmaceuticals, toiletries and computer companies. Those four sectors account for 45 percent of broadcast TV advertising, he said.

Surprisingly strong ratings for NBC Universal's broadcast Beijing Olympics are likely drawing marketing dollars toward the General Electric Co. unit's broadcast and cable networks, hurting demand for ads on rival channels, Nathanson said.

Between October and the first week of November, weaker advertising from industries such as auto may offset stronger political spending, hurting fourth-quarter ad sales, he said.




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