America’s broadcast TV networks are set for a record upfront ad sales season, according to one of the bosses of media giant Viacom, owner of CBS.

Chief operating officer Mel Karmazin is predicting a 12% to 15% rise in prices. “Based on the last upfront, what we're seeing in scatter and the fact that demand is so strong and there is so little inventory, I would expect advertisers to spend in record amounts,” he declared.

Helping to fuel the rise in prices, Karmazin believes, will be the launch of 25 new automobile lines this year plus the large number of reality TV shows in the schedules. The latter factor is significant not because advertisers are attracted to such programming, but because they often avoid it, increasing demand for slots on more traditional formats.

Karmazin’s growth forecasts are a little more conservative than those of NBC, which is estimating a price rise of 15% to 20%. “Realistically, I think it would be very weird to think there would be an upfront that would be up 20%,” he continued.

However, whether Karmazin – still amid tough employment contract renegotiations [WAMN: 21-Jan-03] – will be around to enjoy Viacom’s jump in ad revenues remains to be seen.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff