24th Annual 100 Leading Media Companies

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Cable TV continues to shine among the biggest U.S. media companies.

Abetted by rate increases for basic and add-on services and increased broadband and telephone revenue streams, the medium captured more than one-third, or $67.62 billion, of the $195.12 billion generated by the 100 Leading Media Companies in 2002, according to Advertising Age's 24th annual report on these media behemoths.

Cable's top revenue generator, AOL Time Warner, paced the Top 100 at $28.63 billion from its multiple media offerings, up 9.3%. Cable at the company, which seems poised to strike AOL from its corporate moniker, contributed $14.19 billion of its total, up 12.3%. Overall, cable grew 10.3% among the Top 100.

Media in this report are media distribution businesses supported by advertising. Revenue from movies, TV production companies, contract printing and Yellow Pages is typically omitted from the tallies.

Total media revenue grew 6.3% for these companies in 2002, compared with a paltry 1.8% advance in 2001-the narrowest growth recorded since the 1991 recession, when revenue fell 0.27% for the Top 100.

Very little of the growth in 2002 was attributable to acquisition. M&A activity is picking up in 2003, though. Liberty Media Corp. is about to buy the 50% of No. 100 Court TV it doesn't already own. French conglomerate No. 26 Vivendi Universal is shopping Vivendi Universal Entertainment (USA Network and Sci-Fi Channel among its media holdings). Pending Federal Communications Commission approval is No. 7 News Corp.'s purchase of a controlling interest in No. 8 DirecTV.

Network TV owners could acquire more TV stations if the FCC action to allow the station coverage of the networks to extend to 45% of U.S. households from the current 35% survives. The House voted to reverse the measure, the Senate has not yet taken it on and President Bush has threatened to veto a turnback of the FCC decision.

TV revenue grew 5.7% last year, to $33.78 billion, among the Top 100. However, through May 2003, network advertising is off 1.3% from the same period a year ago, reports TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

Spanish-language TV remains the medium's biggest growth sector, surging 26.7% in ad spending the first five months of 2003. No. 30 Univision Communications, owner of the Univision and TeleFutura networks, is seeking to expand into radio by acquiring No. 86 Hispanic Broadcasting Corp.

In the troubled print sector, newspaper revenue declined 0.5% to $31.88 billion among the Top 100 in `02, but newspaper ad spending in `03 is up 9.5% through May.

Magazine revenue grew 1.6% among the Top 100 to $20.2 billion in `02, as trade publishers kept the lid on growth. The consumer side through May 2003 is generating 10.3% ad growth, but the trades remain in the dog house, down 4.9% through May, says TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

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