Radio beats TV ad growth in Italy

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ROME--Radio has displaced TV to become the fastest-growing sector for advertising in Italy, according to figures released by ACNielsen.

Though radio ads still represent only 4.1% of total ad sales in Italy, thesector is growing quickly, jumping 22% to $256.8 million during the first 11months of 1999, compared to the same period a year earlier. Overall ad sales increased 12.1% to $6.2 billion.

Traditionally, TV advertising is the fastest increasing ad sector in Italy. That sector, experts say, is being hurt by cyclical trends and arelative lack of new programs compared to quick-changing radio programming.

Rapid growth in radio ad revenue "is part of a general trend that will continue to play out," predicts Marco Salamura, a Rome-based media analyst. "As Italians become more involved in other activities, like the high-tech economy, and there is a lack of innovation in other media, TV and print media lose ground, relatively speaking, and radio gains. It's a cycle that usually takes one or two years to conclude."

Private-sector radio companies were more attractive than state-run stations to advertisers: government-run RAI saw ad revenue rise only 15% in the 11-month period, while private-sector companies as a whole enjoyed a 28% jump in revenue.

TV, however, remained the largest destination for ad revenue, with Mediaset, the network owned by Italy's richest man -- media mogul and former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi -- rising 10% and capturing more than a third of all advertising. TV as a whole saw ad revenue rise 9%.

Print advertising revenue grew 15% despite the closure of two major magazines during the span covered by the Nielsen figures.

"While the breakdown of where the money goes has its own implications, the fact that every sector saw gains is good news for the Italian economy,"says Javier Noriega, an economic analyst with investment bankers Hildebrandtand Ferrar. "Baring something unexpected, that

Copyright January 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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