When the Oscars were first telecast in 1953, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences conducted the ceremony on Monday because, at that time, it was the slowest night of the week for moviegoing.

But that was before Nielsen ratings and gridlocked Los Angeles traffic.

Now, the movie business' biggest event could be moving to Sunday, when most TV viewers are in front of their sets and the least amount of drivers are on the streets of L.A. to disturb the ceremony's logistics. The switch would take place next year.

A spokesperson for ABC--which is broadcasting the event through 2000--told the New York Post discussions about the move are still under way.

However, Academy spokeswoman Leslie Unger says it is her organization's "intention" to make the switch.

"It will ease traffic problems, and a number of other factors will be eliminated," she says. "And, of course, a wider viewing audience exists on Sunday night."

Neither network execs nor TV ad buyers are saying how much Oscar spots would fetch on Sunday compared to Monday. What does seem certain, though, is that next year's rates will depend on how many people watch this year's 70th presentation.

If that's the case, look for ABC's ship to come in for '99. With the worldwide appeal of Titanic and its 14 award nominations, as well as the popularity of the other Best Picture noms--As Good as It Gets, The Full Monty, Good Will Hunting and L.A. Confidential--this year's ceremony should draw big ratings.

In fact, the network has already sold out each of the 30-second spots for the March 23 ceremony. The price per ad: $915,000.

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