Syndication growing, but buyers not bullish

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Buyers heading to The National Association of Television Programming Executives annual conference in Las Vegas this week are already yawning over an anticipated lackluster lineup of syndicated programming. Still, the ennui hasn't slowed sales, with syndication outpacing network TV.

"I would say it's been a really good year," said Mitch Burg, president of the Syndicated Network Television Association. According to SNTA data, ad spending in syndication will rise from $2.9 billion in 2003 to a projected $3.5 billion in 2004. Nielsen Media Research figures through the third quarter 2004 show ad spending growth of 20% in syndication-higher than that of network TV, at 16%, cable TV, at 13%, and the total market, at 8.3%.

Buyers, however, are less than bullish. "This was not a great year," said Bill Carroll, VP-director of programming, Katz TV Group. "A couple of years ago we had `Dr. Phil' and he energized everyone. We've had a good performance from `Ellen,' but it has been a slow build. There were high expectations for `The Jane Pauley Show,' but they were not met. The show most people were talking about is Martha Stewart." The unnamed Martha Stewart program from reality producer Mark Burnett Productions and NBC Universal is expected to debut in fall 2005.

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