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NEW YORK: Fox’s strategy of airing fewer but more expensive ads has been scrapped, The Wall Street Journalreports. The network said this week it would end the year-long effort because results didn’t meet expectations.

Fox last year unveiled “Remote-Free TV” to see if fewer ads would generate bigger, stickier audiences. Advertisers paid a 40 percent premium for time, but it wasn’t sufficient to make up for what Fox would have made with a traditional advertising format. Fox, like all broadcasters, also is facing a tougher market this year, with the virtual loss of the auto industry and other large advertisers, such as Geico parent Berkshire-Hathaway, posting massive losses.

Such is the environment in which the networks enter the upfronts, where they sell nearly three-fourths of their respective ad inventories for the upcoming TV season. WSJ cites analysts saying the upfronts could be down as much as 15 percent this year to around $7.4 billion. Cost per thousand--CPM--the audience metric used by networks to price air time, is expected to drop between 1 and 5 percent.

Some may hold back inventory in hopes to make more in the spot market later on, but the strategy could drive advertisers to cable. “There is a whole host of other places you can buy video,” Jackie Kulesza, a buyer for Publicis Groupe’s Starcom USA, told the newspaper, which, like Fox, is owned by News Corp.

Fox will roll out its new fall schedule on May 18. The rest of the broadcast networks will also unveil fall line-ups next week. --Deborah D. McAdams