U.K. TV ad revenue may fall 20% in January

Just when Euro industryites thought the TV ad market had gotten as bad as it could get, it got a lot worse.

Advertising revenues at France’s two major commercial networks, TF1 and M6, plunged in December by an eye-popping year-to-year 12.6% and 10.7% respectively, Gallic audience research company Yacast announced Tuesday.

Results come as U.K. media buying agency sources are predicting a fall for this month of 12%-20% in Blighty TV advertising, according to British newspaper the Guardian.

The Gallic figures, though limited to one month’s biz, far outpace recent results: M6 Group ad coin fell 0.5% in the third quarter while TF1’s ad coin fell 3% over the first three quarters.

The Yacast statistics are worse than all recent predictions. In a December report, Zenith Optimedia forecast media ad spending in Western Europe as a whole would drop 0.9% in 2009.

Gallic results give the lie to optimists who claim that TV will ride out the recession, because people will stay home and watch more in hard times.

Whatever broadcasters’ viewership, the Yacast figures suggest that advertisers may still slash budgets as their companies downscale costs.

The statistics also suggest a disconnect between networks’ audience figures and their advertising revenues.

TF1’s audience share fell from 28.9% in December 2007 to 26.2% in December 2008, a 10% drop, whereas ad sales fell 12.6% in the same period.

Despite competition from burgeoning digital terrestrial services in France, M6 increased its share to 11% compared with 10.8% the year before. But its advertising revenue fell 10.7%.

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