I hate to seem cynical, but…

I hate to seem cynical, but…
Total ad spending on ABC, CBS and NBC jumped a surprising 10.6 percent in the first quarter, according to a study by the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association and reported by MediaDailyNews. This, of course, is good news for beleaguered broadcasters. However, it flies in the face of expectations by observers and people in the ad industry, and it comes just a month before the important “upfront,” where big money is spent guaranteeing ad avails for the entire season.

And this gets me to thinking.

Who are/is the Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association? It’s the trade organization for financial management within the broadcast and cable industries. Their mission statement:

To be the premier source of education, networking, information, and signature products to meet the diverse needs of financial and business professionals in the broadcast, cable and electronic media industries.
Their motto is “Sharing Knowledge, Growing Together,” and members are individuals, not corporations. These are the bean counters and managers of the industry. It’s understandable that they have a vested interest in the issue of TV ad revenues and in a(nother) double-digit network upfront. I’m not suggesting bias or anything like that. This annual report is, according to MediaDailyNews, “regarded as being some of the most accurate accounting of actual network ad spending.” The timing, however, is deliberate and convenient.

Ernst & Young produced the study using “self-reported” data. That means numbers are provided by the people with the most to gain in a positive upfront, ABC, CBS and NBC. Again, I’m not suggesting anything untoward. It’s just all very convenient heading into the most debated upfront in memory.

Here are the findings, courtesy of MediaDailyNews

First Quarter ’04 Network Ad Sales

             ---Q1 '04 Ad $---    Vs. Q1 '03 
Primetime $1,796.6 million +10.9%
Late Night $197.0 million +14.0%
A.M. $237.8 million +21.5%
Daytime $255.5 million +7.1%
Kids $10.9 million +30.3%
Sports $809.9 million +9.4%
News $152.1 million +0.3%
Total $3,459.8 million +10.6%

Source: Broadcast Cable Financial Management Association from self- reported data from ABC, CBS and NBC compiled by Ernst & Young LLP.

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