News is the raw material both of analysts and journalists. And when hard news is in short supply, soft clairvoyance is the preferred option.
Take Thursday's issue of UK newspaper The Guardian: British TV advertising revenues, it reported, "could fall by as much as 15% between April and June as a combination of seasonal factors depresses the market, analysts warn."
Which means that the haruspices at Credit Suisse First Boston have been raking the ITV entrails and caution that flagship channel ITV1 "looks to be tracking-down around minus 13% to minus15%" for the second quarter of the year."
CSFB has accordingly revised its Q2 guesses in a southerly direction, from minus 12% to minus 13%, conscious possibly that few analysts get fired for pessimism.
In similar vein Dow Jones cites unidentified TV media-buyers and predicts that a downward trend in June could result in falls of as much as 18% [WAMN's italics].
Not every haruspex is similarly gloomy. "I still think advertisers are going to spend," opines Kingsley Wilson, a media analyst at Investec Securities - who nonetheless predicts an 11% decline in ITV ad revenues for June. But ... "I still believe Q3 could be a good quarter and I don't think this could be the beginning of a big spiral downwards."
In the more exalted circles inhabited by WAMN reporters (ie, dog-racing tracks) this is known as 'hedging one's bets'.
Data sourced from MediaGuardian.co.uk; additional content by WARC staff