ZENITH UPGRADES AD SPENDING FORECAST

Heavy Buys in Local Media Offsets Losses

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Zenith Optimedia Group upgraded its ad spending forecast to a 0.1% drop in U.S. spending and a drop of 0.3% for worldwide major media spending, up from a July forecast of a 1.2% drop in the U.S. and a 0.5% global drop.

The media buyer -- partly owned by Publicis Groupe and Cordiant Communications Group Worldwide -- upped the U.S. market's 2002 forecast by $1.6 billion to $135.5 billion, thanks to heavy spending in local media by political candidates and auto, retail, telecom and entertainment marketers.

Overseas, Zenith downgraded its expectations for Japan, Germany and Italy based on weaker-than-expected results during the first half, partly offset by improvement in Spain and in the U.K., where TV outlays were boosted by World Cup soccer broadcasts.

Separately, Merrill Lynch & Co. downgraded spending expectations for next year, saying marketers remain wary of spending and new product launches remain few.

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