Karmazin Predicts Good 2004 for Viacom

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Viacom Inc. chief operating officer Mel Karmazin told attendees of the Goldman Sachs Group Inc. media conference in New York Tuesday that 2004 would be "the first year to see the true power of the company" since it merged with CBS in 2000.

The past two years were slowed by the bad economy and Sept. 11, he said, and even in 2003, the economy is "sluggish."

But with an improved economy next year, coupled with the presidential-election-year ad dollars and CBS having the Super Bowl, 2004 will be "very strong" for both local and network TV, which has already locked in double-digit rate increases for most of the year.

Viacom’s local TV stations will also be up "double-digits" in 2004, he said, while radio will be "mid- to high-single-digits" for next year.

The current problem with radio, he said, is that time is bought much closer to the airdate and that tends to weaken pricing.

Karmazin added that fourth-quarter TV-network scatter prices would achieve double-digit rate hikes over upfront prices.

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