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CBS makes scattershot ad play

For months, Viacom president Mel Karmazin has said CBS would hold back more ad inventory for the scatter market if advertisers weren't willing to pay CPM increases in the upfront market. And now, sources say, that's exactly what the network will do.

CBS will hold back 18% more ad inventory than it did last year for scatter sales, according to sources familiar with the situation. CBS expects to wrap its upfront business-roughly 65% of its inventory - by week's end.

The network now has more than $1 billion in upfront commitments and is negotiating other deals that should bring that total to between $1.4 billion and $1.5 billion by Friday. The network's CPM prices for done deals are said to be 1% to 2% higher than last year, when it sold about 83% of its inventory in the upfront.

A year ago, the network raked in $1.62 billion in upfront commitments. Meanwhile, the WB has completed its upfront business, pulling in approximately $475 million in commitments, up 12% in revenue compared to last year, with CPM hikes in the 4% to 5% range. The network said its signed 30 new advertisers this upfront, including several domestic and foreign car makers, making it's the first upfront the WB has done significant auto category business.

UPN upfront sales are also starting to heat up. Sources said the network (co-owned with CBS but selling separately in the upfront) has signed more than one-third of the approximately $180 million it expects to do in the upfront. That would be about $30 more million than it sold last year. Sources say UPN expects to sell 65% of its fourth quarter inventory upfront, compared to about 58% a year ago. - Steve McClellan