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Super Bowl not selling big

Fox reportedly still has a surplus of ad inventory to sell for its Feb. 3 broadcast of Super Bowl XXXVI from the Louisiana Superdome.

The Wall Street Journal reports Fox still has about 30% of commercial time in the actual game left to unload. Officials are trying to resist holding a fire sale. By this time a year ago, Viacom Inc.'s CBS had already sold about 80% of its Super Bowl inventory.

Some of the most visible sponsors of recent Super Bowl games, including Cingular Wireless, Electronic Data Systems Corp. and Volkswagen AG, will be on the sidelines during TV's biggest advertising event of the year.

And the Journal reports Fox is planning to scale back the length of the Super Bowl broadcast with only 3½ hours of pregame fare because the ad market is too soft to support a longer show.

Fox says the slow economy and competition for ad dollars from the upcoming Winter Olympic Games on NBC have made it tough selling the Super Bowl. But they insist they will tally up as much Super Bowl ad revenue as CBS did earlier this year. CBS got as much as $2.3 million for some 30-second commercials in Super Bowl XXXV, with the average price hovering at about $2 million for ads during the game.