The stagnant economy continued to deal severe blows to Japan’s business service industries in 2002, as exemplified by a 6.5 percent decline in billing at advertising agencies, the first decline in three years.

Advertisement-reliant businesses, already in a slump, found themselves dug in a little deeper, with billing at newspapers having sagged for 21 consecutive months through December, and television down for 15 months through October, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday in a preliminary report.

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