The advertising market is expected to see slight increases in spending in the next 12 months as there is no big scheduled event that might boost marketing budgets, media agents said. Carat Hong Kong and Mindshare Hong Kong, two leading advertising agents, estimated the overall ad spend next year would rise 5 per cent after discounts. Advertising spending for the first 11 months this year rose 8 per cent before deducting discounts to HK$4.6 billion from HK$4.3 billion last year, according to media research firm admanGo. Almost all media channels recorded growth, led by a 24 increase at Cable TV, which benefited from showing the World Cup football tournament in the summer, an admanGo report said. The television sector outperformed other media with 10 per cent growth overall. Even so, Hong Kong's No2 free-TV station, Asia Television, was the worst performer across all sectors. Ad spend at the English-language World channel tumbled 16 per cent in the first 11 months while the Chinese-language Home did little better with an 11 per cent decline. 'ATV did not perform very well this year as it lacked eye-catching programmes,' an industry source said. Spending on ATV dropped to HK$2.4 billion from HK$2.7 billion in the first 11 months last year. Cable TV's ad revenue growth may prove short-lived, as the channel will no longer benefit from exclusive rights to carry English Premier League football when the new season starts next August. Their loss is PCCW Now Broadband TV's gain. 'The English Premier League helped Cable TV to generate HK$60 million revenue a year from advertisers,' another industry source said. The loss of EPL rights probably would mean a drop in advertising revenue, let alone reduced growth, he said. The TV sector's ad revenue would grow 3 per cent to 5 per cent next year, BNP Paribas Asia estimated. The overall market would probably increase by 5 to 8 per cent compared with this year, it said. The newspaper sector's 11-month ad revenue rose 7 per cent and the magazine sector's 8 per cent, as the increasing number of free publications offered more space for sale. The radio sector showed a 4 per cent gain. next takes hit Next Media shares slid 2.4 per cent to a 52-week low of HK$2.90 yesterday, continuing a plunge precipitated by the announcement of worse than expected results last month. The stock has tumbled about 36 per cent from a HK$4.60 year high reached in February. Chairman Jimmy Lai Chee-ying has escaped some of the damage; he sold 180 million shares at HK$4.15 each in September. The poor results sent some investors to the exit door. The prospect of what lies ahead sent others. Next's publications in Hong Kong face brutal competition from rivals. Easy Finder, the publisher's title for the young and trendy, cut its cover price to HK$5 from HK$10 at the end of last month to gain readers and advertisers. Sales jumped to about 157,000 copies after the cut from about 70,000 previously. The company hopes average circulation will steady at about 120,000 copies. It will have to contend with South China Media Group which responded by cutting the cover price of its Express Weekly this month to HK$12 from HK$20. Next Magazine's weekly circulation promptly fell to about 120,000. More price cuts are not the answer, say analysts. 'Next should stabilise its Hong Kong magazine business and take action to revamp the content,' Deutche Bank said in a research note. ming pao suffers abroad Overseas editions dragged down the performance of Ming Pao Enterprise, publisher of Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao, in its first half, chief executive Francis Tiong Kiew Chiong said. Operating profit for the publishing business fell 53 per cent to HK$7.27 million in the six months to September 30 on revenue that grew 9 per cent to HK$435 million, the company announced last week. The four overseas editions of Ming Pao, which are published in North America, recorded an operating loss that widened to HK$7.38 million from HK$5.55 million a year earlier. Mr Tiong targeted break even for the overseas business by the end of March. Ming Pao will raise the rates of specific positions to reflect its growth in circulation to 130,000 copies on weekdays from 110,000. 'We feel optimistic for 2007 as market sentiment may get better,' Mr Tiong told Media Eye. At the same time, he expressed concern that rising materials costs would erode the profit margin.