Dutch ad house sees grim blurb growth in ’93

STER, the ad house for the Dutch pubcasters, has predicted a 50% slide in national advertising growth for 1993. Revenues will rise by only 5% to 7% this year, compared with 18% in 1992 (to a total of $ 435 million), director Paul Kenninck said.

Kenninck, blaming the recession, said that for the first time in 25 years, there has been no advertising growth for the past six months.

At rival sales agency IP, which handles advertising for leading Dutch net RTL-4, director Frank Eijken is less pessimistic.

Eijken said advertisers have followed a “wait and see” policy during the past half-year and that income will rise during the next six months, though not to 1992 levels.

Ratings-winning sports events such as the Barcelona Olympics witnessed a late improvement by STER last year, with the Dutch public TV webs and radio claiming some 53% ($ 230 million) of the total ad market. This followed disastrous losses to RTL-4 in 1991, when the public share slipped to $ 180 million (about 50% of total).

According to Kenninck, the programming restructure across the three public nets last fall had an initially positive effect but this has dropped off. In May , the public channels’ combined prime time market share hovered around 50%, well behind their 50% to 60% target. Ratings-leader RTL-4 recently scored a record-breaking weekly prime time share of 31.4%.

The low-level viewing figures has prompted the STER to offer regular advertisers an unprecedented 15% compensation, to take the form of extra ad time in May and June.

Kenninck predicts STER revenues faces increasing pressure during the next couple of years from the predicted second Dutch RTL outlet, RTL-5, and a range of the new commercial radio stations. He calls for more liberal advertising regulations, whereby the public channels can break up longform programming and movies with ad spots.