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TV ad growth predicted

U.K. firm sees U.S. biz upped from 4.5% to 4.7%

LONDON — U.S. TV advertising revenue is predicted to grow by 2.9% this year, according to U.K. media planning and buying giant Zenith Optimedia, but the future looks bleak in Blighty.

The outfit warned Stateside growth would not “propel the U.S. ad market single-handedly” although it upped its prediction for the total U.S. ad market from 4.5 % to 4.7 %.

After the U.K.’s worst advertising recession in living memory, however, Zenith predicts more pain for the struggling commercial ITV web, hit by falling ratings, merger speculation and the possibility of U.S. takeover once new media ownership laws are introduced.

“Unlike the United States’ ‘jobless recovery,’ the U.K., seemingly determined to emulate the slow-mo eurozone model, is condemning itself to sluggish economic growth by creating too many unproductive public sector jobs financed by excessive taxation,” Zenith said.

“Consumer spending power is eroding, and consumer demand is expected to slow from 2.8 % growth this year to 1.3% next. The U.K. ad market is shrinking fastest of the big five, and will be a slow grower in 2004.”

Martin Sorrell, CEO of advertising giant WPP, echoed Zenith’s remarks. Speaking Monday at his company’s annual general meeting, he said the U.K. ad market was underperforming compared with other territories. “The U.K. continues to disappoint with revenues declining in the first five months of 2003.”