NEW YORK: Advertising spend in the US has fallen for the second quarter in a row, an event last witnessed in the dark days of 2001.

TNS Media Intelligence says total adspend for the first half of this year was $72.59 billion, (€52.38bn; £35.66bn) a 0.3% slide compared with the first six months of 2006.

Five of the nation's top ten advertisers made substantial cuts in their ad budgets, while overall spend by the top ten slipped 2.2% during H1.

Budgets were slashed by a hefty 25.1% at General Motors; 12.5% at AT&T; 7.9% at Time Warner; 9.1% at Johnson & Johnson; and 2.6% at Walt Disney.

Network TV slipped 3.6% while spot TV slid 5.4%; also down were business-to-business magazines (-7.2%), local magazines (-4.2%), local newspapers (-5.7%), national papers (-6.4%), Spanish language papers (-4.4%), local radio (-1.5%), national spot radio (-5.3%) and network radio (-4.4%).

Comments TNS president/ceo Steven Fredericks: "While the protracted downturn in automotive spending has been a prime contributor, the overall results reflect weakness across a wide range of industries and advertisers."

Nor was he reassuring about the immediate future: "Given the uncertainties about near-term economic growth and consumer spending, we expect core ad spending will continue to face challenges during the second half of the year."

There is, however, a ray of light illuminating the gloom. Among the media gains were the internet, up 17.7%, cable TV (+2.8%), consumer magazines (+6.9%), Sunday magazines (+4.3%), Spanish language magazines (+13.1%) and outdoor (+3.6%).

And the other five members of the Top Ten league upped their budgets.

Procter & Gamble raised adspend 1.8% to reach $1.61bn. Spending also climbed 8.8% at Verizon Communications. Ford Motor Company bucked the automotive trend, increasing its spend by a modest 2.7%. Sprint Nextel was up 13.5% while National Amusements' adspend soared 56.5%.

Among the advertising categories which saw expansion during H1 were financial services (+3.5%), personal care products (+6.7%) and direct response (+11.3%).

Spending by the telecoms category slipped 6.3%. Domestic auto was down 10.8% while nondomestic auto was down 6.1%.

Data sourced from; additional content by WARC staff