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Flat ad rate likely for Seven, Nine

THE Seven and Nine networks are unlikely to manage a lift in their ad rates for next year, despite Ten's poor performance in the ratings.

Although negotiations over ad rates at the two top-rating networks have started earlier than in past years, advertising sources said Seven and Nine were not aggressively demanding better rates, and were mindful of the difficult conditions in the advertising industry.

While Ten has had a disastrous year in the ratings, negotiations over ad rates at that network were more likely to include value-added packages, such as positioning, sponsorships and other inventory, rather than discounting.

Both Seven and Nine have confirmed that they have begun negotiations over rates early but some in the advertising industry have also pointed out that there is increased flexibility in recent times, with some rates able to be adjusted throughout the year.

Mark Coad, chief executive of PHD group, said the weight of digital versus traditional channels at the networks had also changed, with a slight drift back to traditional channels driven in part by the success of shows such as The Voice.

Seven has again led the ratings this year, slightly increasingly its share from last year, while Nine has bounced back on the strength of big hits such as The Voice, The Block and Underbelly: Badness.

Media analyst Steve Allen, of Fusion Strategy, said some advertising figures had overreacted to Ten's poor ratings and all of the networks were mindful that these were likely to improve. He said while Ten's recent ratings had been particularly bad, they were not representative of the network's long-term value.

Ten will launch its new programming line-up later this month and is expected to begin ad rates negotiations after that.

The advertising market is still soft, with most analysts predicting the December quarter is unlikely to show growth. In the six months to June this year, metropolitan free-to-air TV ad revenue fell 4 per cent to $1.249 billion.