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Petry Media cuts staff on bad ad news

Cutbacks spread across all divisions, 26 U.S. offices

Petry Media, which sells more than $1 billion a year in spot TV for about 240 TV station clients, has laid off dozens of staffers in anticipation of a poor advertising climate in 2005.

Discharged employees at Petry and its TV rep sibling Blair’s New York headquarters were busy packing boxes Thursday. Petry spread the cutbacks across all of its divisions and many of its 26 offices throughout the U.S., from sales and marketing to research and programming.

Petry apparently let nine researchers go and two of the four people on the programming staff in New York. Petry’s programmers give advice to their station clients on what syndicated shows to buy and how to schedule them.

The Television Bureau of Advertising has predicted total spot revenues will be flat at best next year, given no Olympic Games or national political campaigns.

Olympics and politics generate millions of dollars of extra ad revenues for local stations’ coffers.

Stations rely on reps like Petry to pull in national-spot dollars; the TVB said national-spot income will actually fall 2%-4% next year.

Petry started in the 1930s to represent radio stations. It moved into television in the 1950s. In response to the merging of TV station groups throughout the ’80s and early ’90s, Petry bought one of its competitors, Blair, in 1995, creating a privately held umbrella company, Petry Media Corp.

Company engineered a refinancing last year under the joint ownership of its management team and Patriarch Partners.

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