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For Cable Buys, Size Matters

There are no equal rights for cable networks.

"The cable upfront is the season of the haves and have-nots," noted one long-term network insider. "For the big guys with ratings and relationships, CPM increases could hit the 11%-15% range. For midsize nets, plus 3%, just because there's so much inventory out there."

Lifetime Executive VP Sales Lynn Picard agreed. "You can't lump all cable networks together," she said. Picard expects top tier networks with limited programming supply to get CPM increases in the low teens.

The top 10 national TV advertisers recorded double-digit percentage increases in network cable's share of their total U.S. household impressions over the past five years, according to the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau. "The increasing weight to cable, given all the media choices available, proves cable is providing superior value and effectiveness," noted CAB President/CEO Joe Ostrow.

Spot cable, however, is "off the torrid pace set in first quarter," according to Andrew Ward executive VP and director of sales, National Cable Communications.

Despite advertisers' delaying or canceling some advertising going into second quarter, Ward expects second-quarter spot revenue growth in the mid teens.

Anne Elkins, senior VP and director of local broadcast, MediaCom, responding to recent Television Bureau of Advertising attacks on local cable ratings, said, "The fight the TVB is waging is a testament to how well local/spot cable is selling. Local cable measurement is appalling. But that doesn't mean there isn't a place or value for cable."