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Cablers reap reward of national ad spots

NEW YORK — Cable systems are starting to harvest significant dollars from the two minutes an hour of advertising time most cable networks set aside for the operators.

The total billings for national spot cable came in at $242 million in 1997, a 26% jump over the 1996 figure of $193 million, according to CAB (Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau). That’s the biggest year-to-year increase since CAB began compiling spot revenues in the early ’80s.

CAB director of national spot sales Michael Bienstock said the numbers cover only the advertising time each cable system gives over to nationally based cable rep firms and to large-market interconnects. Not counted in the CAB analysis is the time cable systems keep back for their local sales staffs to peddle in their markets.

“Cable systems in all of the major markets are now interconnected, so national spot is finally on a roll,” Bienstock said.

Bienstock added that more money will flow to cable systems because for the first time they’ll have two minutes an hour to sell on TBS, one of the highest-rated networks. In January, TBS morphed from a superstation (which makes no commercial time available to systems) to a basic cable network.

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