TV ad revenue squeaks in a tad bit higher

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Fourth-quarter TV ad revenue figures are in and, except for some big cable networks, they are higher than fourth-quarter 1999 revenues-but not by much.

General Electric Co.'s NBC ranked on top with ad revenue of $1.7 billion in the fourth quarter vs. $1.5 billion a year earlier, according to Nielsen Media Research's Monitor-Plus Service. Walt Disney Co.'s ABC increased to $1.6 billion from $1.5 billion. Viacom's CBS posted revenue of $1.2 billion vs. $1.1 billion a year earlier. News Corp.'s Fox posted an impressive $240 million gain, from $860 million to $1.1 billion-nearly matching CBS.

Gains, however, were mostly due to strong upfront sales; scatter prices for time bought in the quarter fell at some networks and increased only slightly at others.

National cable networks showed an increase of $200 million, fourth quarter to fourth quarter.

The biggest drop on top cable networks: Disney's ESPN, down to $317 million from $351 million.

At AOL Time Warner, TBS fell $14 million and CNN dropped $5 million. TNT was up $3.5 million.

At Viacom, TNN jumped $36 million in fourth-quarter 2000 and Nickelodeon was up $25 million. Discovery Communications' Discovery was up $25 million; A&E Television Networks' A&E jumped $19 million.

Mr. Ross is editor of Electronic Media.

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