NBC skimmed the cream from the 2005-5 upfront season. Says NBC.

CBS, on the other hand, whopped all opposition. Says CBS.

"Yer pays yer money and yer takes yer choice." Says the old Cockney costermonger's axiom.

What is not in doubt is that the remainder of the so-called 'Big Six' networks -- ABC, Fox, UPN and WB -- lag well behind NBC and CBS as this year's upfront bazaar finally shutters its shop window.

According to NBC Universal Television Networks Group president Randel A Falco: "Our prime time was able to hold on to the dominant share. We got 32% percent of all the money in prime time -- without Friends and Frasier."

JoAnn Ross, head of sales at CBS, avoided market share comparisons, but claims the broadcaster has been able to hike its rates more than any other network -- between 9 and 10 percent.

"We didn't have a lot of holes to fill in our schedule," Ross boasted. "We have clear hits in CSI and CSI: Miami; and if you're a client looking at a schedule and not buying CSI: New York [the latest city mutant], that's crazy."

Between them the broadcast networks claim to have sold ad time to date totalling around $9 billion (€7.45bn; £4.96bn), not a country-mile distant from last year's all-time record.

But the broadcast brigade is uncomfortably aware of the cable corps' hot breath on its corporate neck, the latter also reporting record ad sales for the upcoming season.

Moreover, cable's shop-door is still wide open, supporting industry analysts' belief that cable continues to snatch share from its broadcast rivals.

Data sourced from: The Washington Post Online; additional content by WARC staff