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Distribution by circulation and household reach(chart) Paris Match distribution was down while that of the more focused The Economist rose. GLOBAL MEDIA LIMPING THROUGH ANOTHER YEAR

By Published on .

Global media's performance last year can be summarized in three words: moderation and caution.

Like last year, global media are plagued by the continuing recession and low single-digit growth. Some suffered small losses, according to Advertising Age International's ninth annual Global Media Survey. Overall, the range swung from MTV's 17.2% circulation gain to Paris Match's 8.2% loss. Circulation and reach gains came mostly through geographic expansion, especially in the Asia/Pacific region. Even for TV networks, the growth isn't coming primarily from new business but by adding viewers through territorial expansion. For example, Cartoon Network, TNT, ESPN and MTV registered most of their gains that way.

Given tough business times, those involved in global media buys still see some difficult times ahead.

"I'd say life remained extremely tough in 1993, since international budgets are one of the areas [multinational marketers] cut back on; umbrella campaigns go before local ones," said John Perriss, chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi Co.'s Zenith Media Worldwide, London.

This year looks a little bit better, he said, but he doesn't anticipate a major improvement.

In the print arena, Joe Ostrow, exec VP-worldwide director of media, Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, said specialty books seem to be doing better than general interest publications. Runner's World, for example, showed a healthy circulation gain of 14.8% to 512,000 because it expanded distribution in Europe and the Middle East last year while strengthening its franchise in U.S.

"The Wall Street Journal is very focused, as is The Economist and the Financial Times -whereas The Guardian Weekly isn't," Mr. Ostrow noted. Of the four, only The Guardian lost ground last year, as circulation fell 3.7% to 105,910.

The Economist was especially strong with a 6.3% gain to 534,122. Fortune, an every-other-weekly financial magazine, also leapt in distribution-by 10.8% to 870,000.

All general interest publications haven't seen declines, however. "USA Today is really quite new in terms of international distribution, and we're seeing growth coming out of increased outlets," Mr. Ostrow said. He identified Eastern Europe and some Asian markets, such as South Korea and Singapore, as growth markets.

Disparities between the successes and the casualties were most apparent among weekly and monthly publications. The WorldPaper, a monthly Boston-based newspaper distributed within other publications, boosted circulation 16.4%, to 1.2 million.

However, National Geographic suffered a 2.4% decline in circulation, to 9.6 million, hit particularly hard in the Americas, while increasing its circulation in Asia, the Middle East and Europe.

One monthly, Reader's Digest, managed to hold its circulation steady at 27.9 million worldwide even though it suffered losses in Latin America and the Middle East. It made up for losses with gains in the Asia/Pacific region.

In the broadcast area, Turner Broadcasting's Cartoon Network and TNT, which share a channel in the European market, are planning an Asian rollout this year. ESPN also expects to add viewers in the Middle East and Africa this year to those already in Latin America, Europe, the Pacific Rim and Japan.

Measurement of TV audiences globally is still in its infancy because there are no standardized rating systems in many countries. Many figures remain unverified estimates.

Ad rates are hard to come by because networks do not always have a good grasp of audience size on which to base them.

One of the first global channels, Ted Turner's Cable News Network, showed strong gains in viewership last year, rising 12.8% over 1992 to 141 million. New York-based sports network ESPN also grew-by nearly 5.8%, to 110 million-although the network would not disclose distribution figures by region.

Advertising Age International's criteria for ranking global print media include substantial mass circulation on at least three continents, worldwide circulation of at least 50,000 for international editions and ad support. TV networks must have ad support, be received on at least three continents and programming must run on at least three continents as a network.

Based on these requirements, the survey currently excludes New York-based Country Music Television, which plans expansion into Latin America and Asia but is currently distributed only in North America and Europe. CNBC is not part of the survey because it sells its programming to worldwide networks outside its domestic market, but does not operate as a network elsewhere. Also, The Discovery Channel, Bethesda, Md., readying 1994 introductions in Latin America and Asia, was excluded since it presently operates as a network only in North America and Europe.

Trade publications are also excluded because they aren't considered mass-circulation magazines.

This listing examines most of the world's mass global media but should not be considered all-inclusive.

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