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National cable TV networks are expected to see ad revenue gains of almost $2 billion this year, according to a projection by the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau.

In the past three years, cable's first-quarter ad revenues have been 20% of yearend totals. If that pattern holds, a CAB analysis of Competitive Media Reporting data shows cable will close the year with $8.6 billion in ad revenues, up 29% from 1998.

"It's the first time we'll have surpassed the 30% share line in terms of national advertising dollars," said Joe Ostrow, CAB president-CEO, adding that cable's audience is now "well over 40% of the total viewing pie."

Mr. Ostrow predicted $800 million could move to cable during the upfront sales marketplace for fall programming.

He said cable has seen particular growth in the telecommunications, financial and computer categories.

And while many people denigrate direct-response ads, Mr. Ostrow said cable TV continues to embrace them.

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