Are Radio Sales Robbed by TV?

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Growth in radio ad sales is slowing in the fourth quarter, with projections ranging from +1% to +3%.

"Fourth-quarter advertisers are playing it much closer to the vest because of such an uncertain economy," says Mike Drexler, CEO, Optimedia. "They are waiting until the last minute to place buys. The television upfront took such a large chunk, if there's any spillover, it will go to spot TV, and that will hurt radio."

Says Maribeth Papuga, SVP/director of local broadcast, MediaVest, "We'll see some increases in September and October. We did some retail in the top markets, some banking and automotive. There's some tightening in the top markets, but it's sporadic across other markets."

Radio Advertising Bureau stats show a 12% increase in national radio revenues in July, combining with zero growth in local for total 3% growth. "This is a continuation of forward momentum for radio as we progress into the second half of 2003," RAB President Gary Fries insists.

But a recent Bear Stearns report disputes that: "We believe [increases in radio-industry revenue] will decline by 1% to 2% in August and are pacing up 2% to 3% in September [decelerating from higher levels]. 3Q could only be up 1.2% to 1.5% ... up 1.5 to 2.5 % in 4Q."

Echoing these mixed reviews, an Interep National Radio Outlook 4Q chart projects big gains in medical and health services (+70 %), insurance (+50 %) and TV (+30 %) and big losses in movies (-40%), restaurants (-15%) and travel/tourism (-10%).

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