STRONGER UPFRONT AD SALES SEASON EXPECTED 1With some marketers paying scatter prices 40% above those paid in last year’s upfront, ad buyers and sellers expect this year’s upfront to be more robust than last.

Fears of a recession and ratings slippage caused by a crippling writers’ strike may not hurt the 2008-09 upfront selling season after all, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Written by Sam Schechner and Stephanie Kang, the story says media buyers expect some clients to shift money into the upfront this year to avoid paying more. Also putting pressure on the market is the fact that ratings at the broadcast networks fell more than 15 percent for the four weeks ending Feb. 24. Lower ratings mean advertisers have to buy more time to reach the same number of people as they have in the past.

While advertisers may shift money from scatter to upfront, this doesn’t mean they will boost budgets, the story says, although buyers and sellers believe recessionary fears will hurt more next year and haven’t begun to affect big marketers’ budgets.

The outlook for next year is also gloomier because it will pace against this year’s Olympics sales.

TV ad sales executives have been holding preliminary meetings with media buyers and several report signs that there won’t be a pullback, the WSJ story says.

In an effort to boost its fortunes in the upfront, Turner Entertainment Networks has moved its upfront presentation to later in the season, with plans to hold it the same week that the broadcast networks do. Cable networks traditionally have made their presentations early in the season, but Turner wants a high profile closer to when the money is actually committed.

[Read: TVNewsday]