NEW YORK: A panel convened by the International Radio and Television Society to assess future adspend prospects did so with unified pessimism. Summarized GroupM chief investment officer Rino Scanzoni: "This will take longer to get out of than one or two quarters."

"It will be a very slow process. We could be going through this for three years."  Next year, he said, overall media spending could be down 2%-3%, even at best - flat.

Scanzoni believes that the problem is rooted in the fact that US consumers, who have underwritten the global economy for years with unbridled spending on goods and services, "are tapped out."

Cheer was equally conspicuous by its absence in the prognostications of other panel members. Moderator Tom Wolzien, a media consultant, observed that The Conference Board's latest survey rated consumer confidence at 35%, "twice as bad as 2001."

Horizon Media ceo Bill Koenigsberg called the present siuation "rocky," while noting that that "the sky isn't falling-in ... there was clearly a drop in spending in September and October."

But now, he said, "Clients are starting to exhale," as they look toward Q1 2009. "It's not happy days again, but there is money out there," he said.

An isolated Panglossian note amid a welter of wails.

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff