Even then, please toss in some qualifiers.
News Corp. Chairman/CEO Rupert Murdoch said on Tuesday at a media conference the advertising markets are "very much better than they were four months ago." Additionally, the Fox network was "sold out solid."
But he added this, according to The Hollywood Reporter: Advertising rates are down around 1% -- which doesn't sound like good news. Murdoch didn't go into much detai, except to explain that things appeared to "bottom" out.
For weeks CBS, has said the TV advertising market was improving in the third quarter at its network and at its TV stations.
In recent weeks, one media buying executive noted commercial time in late-night network talk show inventory has been virtually sold out -- due, in part, to some typical end-of-the-season adjustments from networks with TV marketers.
Another media buyer says there is some overall strength due to some retail and telecommunications money. Now add this: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says we are virtually just about out of the recession.
Surely this kind of news will be conveyed in major sales pitches by network executives to TV marketers in the coming weeks.
But during the same media conference that Murdoch's was addressing, Disney's CFO Tom Staggs parsed his language a number of times, using words/phrases like "cautious," "encouraging," and "continued tough market."
So start scratching your collective heads. Other media executives consider that with less inventory sold in the upfront market, there's plenty of network inventory left to be sold in the scatter periods.
Where does this leave us? Traditionalists will tell you that soft upfront markets are followed by strong scatter markets. If this trend continues into the second quarter, that sets off a stronger upfront market in May/June.
But after that, you go back to soft scatter -- since everyone blew their wads in the previous upfront. And if that lasts through the second quarter of the following year, you should have a soft upfront market. Then the cycle starts again.
But this year everyone needed to check their gears.A somewhat stronger second quarter scatter market was followed by a very weak upfront market. That fooled everyone, since a firmer second quarter typically leads to a healthy upfront. So everyone hesitated -- which led to networks buyers and sellers doing deals around each other's summer barbecues in late July.
And now? Maybe the right word comes from our summer vacations activities: overdone.