Growing economy prompts co.'s to restore budgets

BUENOS AIRES — Ad spending on feevees in Argentina, the biggest pay TV market in Latin America, shot up 69% in the third quarter of 2003 from a year earlier as a recovering economy encouraged advertisers to buy more ad time.

Ad outlays on Cartoon Network, MTV and other nets rose to 85 million pesos ($28.6 million) in the July-to-September period from $16.9 million a year earlier, according to the Argentine Bureau of Cable and Internet Advertising (BPCI).

During the same period, the amount of ad time sold rose 36% to 19.5 million seconds from 14.3 million.

The cable ad market has been steadily recovering this year as the economy grows at a rate of 7%, prompting companies to restore their advertising budgets to levels before the financial crisis in 2002. Ad spending on pay TV fell 23% in 2002 from a year earlier as the economy shrank 11% in the face of a sharp currency slump, 45% inflation and a plunge in retail sales.

The surge in ad spending is the latest positive sign for Argentina’s pay TV industry. Cable subs are steady after declining by 30% from a 5 million high in 1998. And the federal broadcasting regulator has vowed to crack down on rampant piracy that accounts for about 20%-25% of connections.

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