Italian ad market in the doldrums

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ROME -- Driven by a 6% year-over-year fall in television ad spending during the first two months of the year, Italy's overall ad market slumped 4.5% compared with the same period last year, quashing hopes that signs of strength from late 2006 might have been a prelude to an ad market recovery in Italy this year.

Total revenue in Italy's advertising sector has been eroding since the start of the decade. But a surge related to last year's World Cup and then signs of strength in the television and print advertising sectors over the last months of 2006 sparked speculation that a recovery could be in the making.

But consensus statistics from three media monitoring companies released Wednesday(April 25) indicate otherwise: The total ad market was worth €1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) in January and February, down 4.5% compared with €1.3 billion during the same period in 2006.

The bulk of the decrease came from television advertising, which shrank 6% to €757 million ($1 billion) compared with €805 million a year earlier.

The much smaller in-cinema advertising sector also retreated, tallying only €7.8 million ($10.5 million) in revenue compared with €10.3 million a year earlier -- a 24% fall despite a 6% increase in film ticket sales over the same period.

The print and radio advertising sectors each contracted by 2%, to €330.2 million ($442.5 million) and €60.1 million ($80.5 million), respectively.

The only significant sector to experience ad growth was the Internet, which saw sales surge 40% compared with the previous year, reaching €32.2 million ($43.1 million).
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