Some improvement in the US advertising market has been detected, according to News Corporation president and chief operating officer Peter Chemin, who predicts that ad revenues will increase by between 3% and 4% in the first quarter of this year.

“However,” he qualified cautiously, “that is off a base that was down about 10%. It feels as if we have hit the bottom, but we are a long way from hitting boom time.”

Chermin was also bullish about the prospects stateside for British hit TV import Pop Idol, a version of which NewsCorp plans to launch on its Fox Television network. Fox is currently taking a ratings leathering from rivals NBC and CBS, with a year-on-year profits slide from $211 million to $113m in the fourth quarter of 2001.

“It was not a great year from the ratings perspective and much of that is due to the decline of X-files and Ally McBeal,” admitted Chemin. However, “Pop Idol has the appeal because it is somewhere between a talent contest and the soap opera and I feel good about the decision to run it in the US,” he enthused.

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff