Disney CFO says ABC ad sales off to slow start this year

By Gina Keating

LOS ANGELES, June 13 (Reuters) - Walt Disney Co. (DIS.N: Quote, Profile, Research) Chief Financial Officer Tom Staggs said advance sales of advertising for its ABC television network got off to a slow start this year but the company was confident that future sales would more than offset any current weakness.

But Staggs reiterated at an investor conference in Santa Monica, California that the company still believes it will see average double-digit profit growth in the current fiscal year across all of Disney's divisions.

"Overall we see continuing good signs pretty much across the board in our businesses," Staggs said.

ABC has enjoyed two years of strong network ratings with hits like "Desperate Housewives," "Lost," and "Grey's Anatomy" making it the first stop for advertisers making advance purchases of time on the network.

"Upfronts (advance ad sales) has been very slow to develop this year. It looks like advertisers are holding back more dollars than they had for instance last year," Staggs said. "We will see a greater amount of total dollars in scatter (spot ad sales) this year."

Disney's scatter market sales were running "slightly better" than last year's average of about 10 percent over upfront ad sales, Staggs said. He said ad pricing was consistent with Disney's expectations.
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