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NBC has sold 75% of 2002 ads

SHARE NBC has sold 75% of 2002 ads

MOSCOW — NBC has sold 75 percent of its available commercial time on its broadcast of next year's Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, the network's president said.

The General Electric Co. unit is charging about $550,000 for a 30-second advertisement during the broadcast, NBC President Randy Falco said. Companies that bought Olympics ads during the recent "upfront" market, when networks sell much of their commercial time for the TV season that begins in September, include Allstate Corp. and Volkswagen AG.

Falco said NBC is on roughly the same pace it was before the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney. While ratings for those Olympics fell to a 32-year low, NBC turned an undisclosed profit on its taped broadcast. The network's broadcast of next year's Winter Olympics will run from Feb. 8 to Feb. 24.

"We're very happy with where we are with ad sales for the Games," Falco said."I'm more concerned about when the market is going to start turning around."

Media buyers echoed Falco's optimism.

"It's a good number in a bad marketplace," said Tom DeCabia, a media buyer with Schulman/Advanswers. "It's also good because the Olympics aren't looked at to be that special anymore. The only thing they have going for them is (their U.S. location), so the time difference won't be much of an issue ."

DeCabia said another obstacle that NBC must overcome is that News Corp.'s Fox network is selling ads for its broadcast of next year's Super Bowl during the same period.

NBC and its cable affiliates will run a combined 373 1/2 hours of TV coverage of the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, a nearly threefold increase over the hours CBS committed to the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.

General Electric Co.'s NBC network is scheduled to show 165 1/2 hours of Olympic programming, 111 hours of that live. Cable networks CNBC and MSNBC will televise another 208 hours of the Winter Olympics.

The Winter Games return to the U.S. for the first time since 1980.