The Broadcast Cable Financial Management Assn., which compiled the figures, said the quarter-to-quarter dropoff is the worst it has ever recorded.
Buz Buzogany, president and CEO of BCFM, attributed the record decline not only to the lousy advertising market -- made even worse by the September tragedy -- but aqlso to the fact that the 2000 Summer Olympic Games from Sydney helped inflate the numbers in some dayparts a year ago.
And there doesn't appear to be any end in sight to the grim revenue figures in the fourth quarter, Buzogany said.
The two dayparts that survived the red-ink onslaught in the third quarter were primetime, which was up by 10.14%, and latenight, up by 9.94%. Buzogany said primetime and latenight got a lift because they were somewhat off in the year-earlier period as Olympics telecasts were pulling a great deal of advertising money out of entertainment programming in these dayparts.
With no Olympics this quarter, big chunks of that money from last year flowed into the coffers of the Big Three.
Not surprisingly, the Olympics had the biggest impact in the sports category, which plunged from $1.25 billion a year ago with Olympics to only $288.98 million without the Games -- a decline of 76.9%.
Children's programming on the Big Three took the second biggest hit, dropping 28.8% from third-quarter 2000.
The BCFM numbers, put together by Ernst & Young, represent actual dollar figures, not estimates. Buzogany said the Fox, WB and UPN networks still decline to supply revenue totals to the association.