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A spending surge in the top 10 advertising categories during the first six months of 1994 gave magazine ad pages the strongest boost in a decade, the Publishers Information Bureau reported.

And the race among individual magazines is tighter than ever for the yearend ad-page crown.

After narrowly missing that mark for the past two years, Business Week topped all other consumer magazines at the halfway point with 1,723.4 pages, an 11.5% increase from a year ago. Rival Forbes was in second place with 1,661 pages, up 1.8%.

For January through June, consumer magazine ad pages tracked by PIB were up 4.8% to 86,709. Ad revenues climbed 9.7% to $3.9 billion, marking the best showing in five years in that category.

"For the first time in 1994, all top 10 categories showed revenue increases, both for the month and year to date," said James R. Guthrie, exec VP at the Magazine Publishers of America.

Automotive remains the top advertising category, with first-half revenues of $605.1 million, a 10% increase from a year ago.

Last year, the magazine industry experienced a recovery in the first quarter but sputtered in the second and third quarters.

This year, however, modest increases for the first quarter were followed by stronger growth in the second quarter.

For magazine publishers, these results could prove to be the first true indication that the tedious recession and ad page drought are finally history.

Time Inc. President Don Logan said: "I believe the performance is partially due to the improved economy, but it's also the result of a lot of hard work by publishers to position magazines as both the reach and targeting vehicle of the '90s."

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