ABC latest to finish ad sales in swift TV upfront

NEW YORK Thu Jun 10, 2010 3:55am IST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - ABC has joined Fox and CBS in wrapping up sales of its advertising for the upcoming TV season, it said on Wednesday, in what is becoming one of the swiftest "upfront" selling periods in recent memory.

Walt Disney Co's ABC declined to discuss specifics of its deals, but sources with knowledge of the negotiations said the broadcast network won price increases of 8-9 percent from advertisers.

ABC sold about 75-80 percent of all its commercial time available for the 2010-11 season, one of the sources said. Rivals CBS, owned by CBS Corp, and Fox, owned by News Corp., sold similar amounts of their inventory.

NBC is still in the process of negotiating its upfront sales, so-called because they take place each year after the broadcast networks unveil their prime-time schedules in May but ahead of the actual fall TV season [ID:nnN0898142]. But a source said it, too, is likely to finish very soon. NBC is a division of General Electric Co.

With three of the big four broadcast networks now done with negotiations, and the fourth one close, this upfront season is moving even more quickly than many had expected.

A year ago, with advertising budgets under enormous pressure, negotiations turned contentious and stretched out into August. The broadcast networks eventually agreed to price cuts, but also held back volume. Overall sales were down about 20 percent.

This time around, sources say that total advertising sales will likely rise by 16-19 percent to as much as $8.2 billion.

(Reporting by Paul Thomasch; Editing by Richard Chang)

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