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NETWORKS ADD ADS TV SURVEY SHOWS TIME UP FOR 3RD STRAIGHT YEAR.

Byline: Marla Matzer Rose Staff Writer

How do you know there are too many ads on television? Even the advertisers start grousing about it.

Last November each hour of prime-time network television contained an average of 16 minutes, 43 seconds of advertising and other ``nonprogramming'' content, a jump of 59 seconds from the preceding year, says a survey by the American Association of Advertising Agencies.

It's been this way for at least 10 consecutive years the advertising group has been tracking the issue. And advertisers are increasingly worried about it because they fear their messages can get lost in the ad clutter.

And prices for commercial time keep going up, of course.

``We haven't measured this, but I would suggest there is a direct correlation between the increase in clutter and a diminishment in the effectiveness of our creative campaigns,'' said Steve Grubbs, chief executive of OMD USA, a media buying firm.

Jon Mandel, chairman of the AAAA National Television and Radio Committee and an executive with the ad firm MediaComm Inc., agreed.

``The increases in clutter are a hidden increase in cost to the advertiser and the economy. If the television industry doesn't recognize soon that they are killing the golden goose, they will lose the battle for the attention of consumers . . . and the attention of advertisers,'' he said.

The advertising group measures both pure ad time and nonprogramming time, which includes commercials, public service spots and promotional spots for local and network programming.

According to the AAAA, the amount of ad time has gone up by nearly a minute and a half in just two years. Since 1991, the average amount of commercial time in a prime-time hour has increased by three minutes.

It's even more dramatic if compared with the '60s and '70s. Watch an old TV show today, and you'll probably notice scenes and credits chopped in order to make room for more commercials.

They're not mentioned in the AAAA report, but children's shows are the only class of programming during which the amount of commercial time is regulated by the federal government. Guidelines of a maximum 12 minutes of ads per hour on weekdays and 10 1/2 minutes on weekends have been in place for a decade, following the Children's Television Act of 1990.

The amount of commercials carried on all other types of programming is strictly up to the networks. In the face of stagnant ratings, rising program costs and a booming market for ad time on the part of dot-com companies, many networks have been packing more and more promos and commercials into a typical hour.

No network stood out in its ad time, with ABC leading the majors by a small margin.

Among the morning shows, ABC's ``Good Morning America'' averaged about a minute more of ads per hour than its competitors on NBC and CBS.

CBS was last in total nonprogramming time, but showed the greatest increase.

And promos - those spots the networks run touting their own shows - seem to be becoming ubiquitous. During this year's Super Bowl, there were almost as many commercials for ABC as for outside advertisers.

An ABC spokesman said that network's head of promotion, Alan Cohen, was out of the country and unavailable for comment.

George Schweitzer, executive vice president of marketing and communications for CBS, said the network tries to be sensitive in not running too many promo spots close together. Schweitzer said these spots, which can be as short as five or 10 seconds, can bother viewers when they're stacked together in quick succession.

He said the amount of promos CBS runs has remained fairly consistent over the past few years, and that the networks all monitor one another and run a comparable amount of promo spots.

CAPTION(S):

chart

Chart: WHEN YOU'LL SEE THE MOST ADS

Those watching TV during the day will see the most ads, while kids watching on the weekend - thanks to government regulation* - will see the least. How different time periods compare in terms of average minutes of commercial time per hour:

* Maximum minutes per hour allowed by the Children's Television Act of 1990.

SOURCE: Federal Communications Commission/American Association of Advertising Agencies

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 2, 2000
Words:697
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