An 'Uncertain Market' Made Worse After Terror Attacks

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The network TV advertising marketplace hasn't changed much since Sept. 11, and buyers don't expect a significant recovery in 2002, Walt Disney Co. President-Chief Operating Officer Robert Iger said.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs & Co. Communacopia conference today, Mr. Iger said he met with media buying agencies and his own sales teams Tuesday and found the effects of the terrorist attacks have mainly "added uncertainty to an already uncertain market."

Media buying has been extremely short term this year, Mr. Iger said, which will make the scatter market hard to read and forecasting difficult. He said that agencies told him travel, domestic autos and financial services advertising are hurting while foreign autos, pharmaceutical and wireless communications continue to be hot spots.

ABC held on to ad revenue
Among Disney's media properties, ABC regained 90% of its ad revenue lost in the days after the attack, when ABC News broadcast 91 hours of commercial-free news, Mr. Iger said.

Most of the ads were shifted to the fourth quarter, and the remainder were mostly tied to time-sensitive promotions that could not be rescheduled, he said. ESPN was mainly affected by the suspension of sports events, but has since rebounded, he noted.

Audience numbers were down for the Fox Family Channel following the attacks, but that is not expected to affect Disney's plans to purchase the network from News Corp., Mr. Iger said. Disney is monitoring the situation and will proceed with the deal if all closing terms are met.

Eyeing AT&T Broadband sale
Mr. Iger said Disney is also monitoring the proposed sale of AT&T Broadband, to prevent an excessive concentration of ownership in both delivery services and content that could result in discriminatory treatment for rival content providers.

"We would be very wary of [a sale to] a company that owns a significant amount of pipe and programs," Mr. Iger said.

Disney will actively fight such a sale, he said: "You will hear us squawk the loudest, especially in Washington."

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