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TVB Touts Satellite Surge

The Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB), which waves the flag for the broadcasting business, says that direct broadcast satellite's (DBS) share of the TV viewing audience was 24.5% in November, up from 20.8% in November 2005, based on its analysis of Nielsen National People Meter numbers. (That DBS figure also counts other rarely utilized delivery systems).

That's a gain of 2.6 million subscribers. At the same time, TVB says cable penetration fell from 64.8% last November to 62.1% at the end of this November, the lowest it's been since 1990.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association says TVB's stats are "out of line with what most industry groups are saying." For example, Kagan Research says cable had 65.4 million subscribers at the end of September 2005 and 65.6 million at the end of the September, while Kagan says DBS and "other" forms of distribution were at 30.6 million, up from 28.2 million last September.

Why should TVB care how viewers get their TV? Because the local cable ad sales business is growing and competes directly with local broadcast sales staffs. DirecTV and EchoStar cannot insert local commercials," says a TVB spokesman, "so when cable makes claims of how many viewers see cable networks, there are far fewer watching on cable than they think."