The U.S. recession is deeper and expected to last longer than past recessions. Overall media M&A is projected to be lower in 2009 than in 2008. Despite this, 63 percent of respondents in AdMedia Partners’ annual Prospects for Media Mergers and Acquisitions survey said they expect to complete an acquisition this year due to the number of attractive buying opportunities.

According to the report, released Monday, 49 percent of respondents believe strategic buyers will either play a larger or similar role in media M&A relative to financial buyers, up from 19 percent in 2008.

“There may be several opportunities for strategic buyers to move into historically hard-to-enter, upscale markets, especially in the hotly contested ‘local and regional niche’ markets such as city and regional magazines and local business journals,” one respondent said. For the report, AdMedia surveyed more than 1,500 media industry senior executives from the U.S. and abroad.

While the majority of respondents (61 percent) agreed that now is the time for buyers to take action, 73 percent said sellers should wait to sell because valuations are off significantly from 2008. Respondents indicated prices for most media properties as either fairly valued or, in some cases, undervalued.

The respondents expect media M&A in 2009 to remain relatively active in two categories: information/database publishing and b-to-b magazines—although both are expect to show only moderate activity. Traditional media, on the other hand, is buffeted by a number of “disruptive trends and technologies” that are causing “permanent alterations in the media landscape,” according to the report. Those factors include the migration of ad dollars online, access to free Web content, the emergence of social media and expanded search technologies, and the inability of traditional media companies to react and adapt.

AdMedia’s report identified broadcast (radio and TV), newspapers and consumer magazines as the weakest segments for M&A activity in 2009.

Thirty-five percent of respondents said they believed the recession will last throughout 2009. Twenty-one percent said they expect it to last three quarters.

To see the full report, click here.