Feature

World Media 2007: US

An immense budget deficit and a faltering dollar are not a good recipe for confidence in the US economy. And President Bush's position is increasingly uncomfortable as voters turn to the left.

US economic growth has always been seen as the engine of prosperity around the rest of the globe - and if the US advertising and media markets are buoyant, then Europe and Asia can feel optimistic too.

Yet, to the untutored outsider, it seems obvious that some of America's spinning plates are wobbling ominously - as indeed they have been for more than a decade. The biggest long-term worry is the sustainability of America's awesome budget deficit. By the end of 2006, government debt alone was roughly $4,600 billion but by the time you read this, it will be significantly higher - not least because President Bush keeps going back to Congress to demand more money to fund the continuing shambles in Iraq.

The only thing keeping the US economy afloat is its ability to print enough banknotes and issue bonds to cover the deficit - and this is predicated entirely on international faith in the dollar and the inevitability of US growth. So when a slump began to ravage the US property market last summer there were genuine fears that this was the precursor to a more widespread crash.

It hasn't happened - but growth prospects now look stronger in Europe than in the US, which will put ever greater pressure on the dollar. It isn't exactly a happy situation. And of course, it seems to be accompanied by a creeping political paralysis that has its ultimate source in the aforementioned troubles in Iraq.

President Bush has appeared increasingly isolated since the resignation of his defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, after November's mid-term elections in which the Republicans lost control of both the Senate and Congress. The coming presidential elections should prove interesting.

Meanwhile, the media market has been relatively quiet. The sexy stories have been about young entrepreneurs, the internet and new online formats - but the important stories have again been about the power broking within US media's grey-haired elite. Rupert Murdoch, for instance, persuaded the Liberty Media chairman, John Malone, to give up his stake in News Corp in return for greater equity in the News Corp-controlled DirecTV.

And Viacom's octogenarian chairman, Sumner Redstone, showed he has lost none of his knack for attracting headlines - the business pages were agog when he sacked his supposed successor, the chief executive, Tom Freston; and the celebrity magazines were similarly breathless when he ended Paramount Pictures' long and fruitful relationship with Tom Cruise.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE
USdollars million at current prices. *Estimated
Total News- Maga- TV Radio Cinema Out- Online
papers zines door
2000 156,667 48,700 23,978 52,258 20,819 - 4,912 6,000
2001 147,246 45,778 21,540 49,714 18,800 - 4,814 6,600
2002 149,756 45,302 20,903 51,640 19,423 275 4,945 7,250
2003 152,282 46,227 21,712 51,610 19,581 303 5,093 7,758
2004 161,487 48,538 22,757 55,504 20,364 339 5,297 8,688
2005 166,235 50,237 23,902 55,390 20,589 400 5,726 9,992
2006 174,838 51,493 24,804 58,355 20,892 460 6,344 12,490
2007* 182,080 52,523 26,007 58,658 21,211 529 7,040 16,112
2008* 189,460 53,310 27,351 60,618 21,541 608 7,826 18,206
2009* 196,086 54,110 28,847 60,924 22,402 699 8,712 20,391

Adspend notes 1) After discounts. 2) Includes production costs. 3)
Includes classified. 4) Includes agency commission.

FACTFILE
HIGHEST CIRCULATING TITLES
Newspaper: USA Today (daily, 2,269,509 copies)
Business magazine: Consumer Reports (monthly, 4,000,000 copies)
Consumer magazine: AARP The Magazine (bi-monthly, 10,100,000 copies)
TOP TV SHOWS
Most-watched TV programme: American Idol
Best new TV format: Ugly Betty
MAJOR MEASUREMENT TOOLS
Circulation: Audit Bureau of Circulations
Readership: Scarborough Research, MPA
TV viewing: Nielsen
MAIN MEDIA OWNERS
Newspapers: Gannet, Tribune
Magazines: Time Warner, Advance Publications
TV: Viacom, NBC Universal, Walt Disney

THE LOWDOWN

- Media topic du jour

Wal-Mart's decision to part company with its star marketing director, Julie Roehm, following allegations of "inappropriate behaviour" in her relationships with ad agencies.

- Reigning media gurus and why

Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, the founders of YouTube.

- Media mogul to be seen dining with and why

Sumner Redstone: cantankerous, controversial, uber-rich and in charge.

- Car to drive: Who needs a car when you have NetJets?

- Phone to carry: BlackJack QWERTY smartphone.

- Whatever you do, don't say: Here comes Hillary.

BUZZ MEDIA IDEA OF 2006

The cult success of LonelyGirl15 on YouTube. This launched as just another video diary in the Web 2.0 space but it soon became apparent that this girl had an interesting life and could talk about it in an engaging way. However, as the footage became more ambitious, with the camera following her out and about, people began to be suspicious. Turns out, LonelyGirl15 is an actress, there's a script and a production team.