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Syndication Picks Up

4/18/2004 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Still in the afterglow of a highly successful New York gathering, syndicators say demand is growing and numbers are beginning to move upward. Agency sources agree.

"Second-quarter pacing is not gangbusters," says one buyer. "I would say it's flat to +8% or +9% over upfront prices." Package goods, entertainment, and pharmaceuticals are doing much better. "From our experience, however, retail is still not that strong."

Agency attendees are still raving about the much improved Syndicated Network Television Association Conference, which was held on one day with nine syndicators presenting new programming—and no down time. "The conference moved," says another buyer.

Buzz from the presentations centers on three new shows that are not generating hoopla so much as hopeful optimism they can grow into hits: The Tony Danza Show
(Buena Vista), The Jane Pauley Show
(MGM/NBC), and ET
spinoff The Insider
(Paramount).

As for minority programming, Frank Mercado-Valdes, founder of The Heritage Networks, notes "a growing marketplace" for such shows as Weekend Vibe
and Showtime at the Apollo
and various movie packages.

"It's becoming easier for advertising dollars to flow to us," Valdes says, noting recent buys from McDonald's, Pepsi, Chrysler, Ford, and Burger King. "We are also looking at new cars, pharmaceuticals, and restaurants." Heritage is sold out for second quarter, he adds, with growth in scatter buys in the "double digits" over last year.

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