How bad is the advertising market? Pretty bad, says Viacom Chief Executive Philippe Dauman. And it’s only going to get uglier.

“It is clear that while as cable network owners we are in a more favorable media segment than most, advertising comps are likely to get worse before they get better,” he said on a conference call today.

This comment may seem dry, but we’re totally ready to cut him some slack since it came shortly after this poetic gem: “And despite the orgy of pessimism prevalent of the late, the economic tide in our economy and our industry will rise again.”

Dauman, whose job means he oversees MTV, VH-1, Comedy Central and so on, assessed the situation this way: Advertisers who committed dollars during the upfront for the first quarter are holding solid, but are getting shaky for the second quarter.

Viacom finance whiz Tom Dooley expanded on that. “In terms of second-quarter option exercises, many of the moves have been shifting dollars from quarter-to-quarter. Some advertisers have done so but come back later in the quarter to make smaller buys in the scatter market. It is this activity combined with the overall economic trends which leads us to believe that ad market will get worse before it gets better.”