How bad is it out there for Los Angeles' local stations on the advertising sales front?

So bad that L.A. is sure to drop below $1 billion in total TV advertising revenue this year for the first time since it crested the billion-dollar threshold in the late 1980s. This is according to a local sales veteran who's been tracking the market since I was in elementary school.

The ad market for L.A.'s commercial broadcast stations has hovered around $1.3 billion annually for most of the past decade. The final tally for last year, when the effect of the economic downturn was somewhat offset by political ad spending, is coming in at about $1.1 billion.

If the trends of the past few months continue, 2009 could come it at $700 million-$800 million, according to this source. There's no ad category that isn't down so far this year — even the booming B.O. has yet to lift the film category year-over-year.

That's how bad it is out there.

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