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Television has proved resilient against the general slowdown in total U.S. advertising spending over the first nine months of the year, according to an ad-tracking report issued Monday by Kantar Media.

Increased spending by movie marketers and packaged goods purveyors in recent months have helped the Big Four networks and CW offset losses suffered earlier in the year. All told, the TV sector’s growth has been paced by gains for cable, Spanish-lingo outlets and syndicated programs.

Total U.S. ad spending in the third quarter ebbed to what Kantar called a “barely palpable” 0.4% gain over 2010 for the July-September period. But the television sector registered a 3.2% gain for the quarter, thanks in large part to a 6.5% gain in cable advertising during the summer months that are the prime showcase for original cable series.

The top 10 TV advertisers spent $7.3 billion on blurbs during the first nine months of the year, accounting for 15% of all TV ad spending, according to Kantar. But the expenditures by the top 10 marketers amounted to only a 0.1% gain over the same frame in 2010.

Spanish-lingo TV outlets continue to ride rating gains to an impressive 18% boost for the third quarter, while syndie fare is up 14.8% as it continues to recover from losses suffered after the economic meltdown of 2008-09.

For the January-September period, total TV advertising is up 2.3%, compared to a 1.5% gain for total U.S. ad spending, which hit $104.7 billion.

Spending on Internet advertising (defined as paid search and display) was down 2.9% for the third quarter, while magazines were down 1.2% and newspapers fell 3.7%. For the nine-month frame, Internet ad spending grew 2.8%. Magazines are up 1.5% while newspapers are down 3.8%.

The Kantar report notes that the biggest advertisers have become more conservative in their spending in recent months, offsetting the growth in expenditures by mid-sized advertisers.

“The cautious optimism for the advertising market at the beginning of 2011 has been replaced by the statistical evidence of progressively slowing growth rates,” said Jon Swallen, senior veep of research for Kantar Media North America.

The broadcast nets and local TV stations are facing tough comparisons from 2010, which saw a burst of political advertising spending in key markets for state and federal elections.

Network TV, defined as the Big Four and the CW, is down 5.7% for the first nine months of the year — a drop Kantar also credited to the migration of college basketball and football games from CBS and ABC to the Turner cablers and ESPN.

But network TV managed to eke out its first quarterly gain of 2011 in the third quarter, with a 0.2% increase chalked up to summer movie marketing blitzes and higher spending from the packaged goods arena.

Local TV is down 2.7% from January-September and down 5.7% for the third quarter, when political spending accelerated last year.

Cable TV (which encompasses 67 ad-supported channels) is up 9.9% for the first nine months of the year. Spanish-lingo TV is up 7.4% from January-September, while syndication is up 17.2%.

Half of TV’s top 10 advertisers cut their spending during the first nine months of the year vs. 2010. Chrysler and NBCUniversal parent Comcast were the biggest gainers. Comcast ranked No. 6 on the list with $685.6 million — up 20.5% year-over-year as NBCU’s film and TV units stepped up marketing activities.

Chrysler ranked No. 90, with a 38.8% increase to $637.8 million, fueled by its introduction of new car models.

Procter & Gamble Co. remains TV’s biggest spender overall, even with a 6.9% decline over the nine-month frame to $1.2 billion.