Primed for upfront

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Look for another early prime time upfront market this year. Network sources say dozens of advertisers and agencies want to start booking advertising starting May 22, the week after all the networks present their new schedules. Last year's market moved early as well and was just about finished by Memorial Day. Typically, the market doesn't break until June, but even the buyers this year are saying it's a seller's market. Such markets tend to force buyers to move early, for fear of getting shut out or paying higher prices if they delay. When the buyers say the upfront will be a seller's market, you can pretty much count on it. "The dotcoms aside, everyone has money. We have a lot of clients with expanding budgets," says a major New York-based ad buyer. He predicted the upfront could reach $7.3 billion this year.

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