As German media groups post their monthly results for January, it appears that double digit year-on-year falls in ad sales have been the norm across the industry.

Media companies are consistently reporting double digit falls in bookings for last month. In broadcasting, Sat1 sold 15% less airtime for ads than in January 2000, while sales at Kirch Gruppe’s ProSieben and the RTL Group’s RTL channel dropped 20% and 15% respectively.

It is a similar story in the publishing world. Weekly news magazine Focus, owned by Hubert Burda Media Holding GmbH & Co, saw ad sales down 12.5% on January 2000. Elsewhere, 20% falls afflicted Axel Springer Verlag’s Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag and Gruner + Jahr’s weekly magazine Stern.

However, some in the ad industry regard last year as an exception to the norm, with this year’s figures following a more conventional path. “January is traditionally a weaker month. Last year, there was very strong demand, sustained even in the weaker months, from energy companies, telecom companies and financial-services companies,” explained Klaus-Peter Schulz, chief executive of OMD Media Group. “Right now, they're tending to pull back.”

The outlook for the whole year remains fairly positive. RTL Group’s German marketing arm IP Deutschland predicts a 6% growth in TV ads for 2001. “There aren't any signs that budgets are being cut,” commented the unit’s Matthias Schwarz, “so we're assuming campaigns will start later in the year.”

On the other hand, the full-year forecast for the publishing industry is not quite so sunny – the German magazine publishers’ association Verband Deutsher Zeitschriftenverleger predicts “stable sales” in the coming year which “stay flat with 2000”.

News Source: Handelsblatt (Germany)