Election Year Buys Up

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Record political spending is prompting third-quarter increases of an estimated 10%-15% for the broadcast-spot market, despite Procter & Gamble's virtual exit from that market.

"P&G has spent very little money in broadcast spot this year," says Bear Stearns Senior Managing Director Victor Miller, adding that new leadership appears to have a "bias towards cable." Kraft and GE, though, seem to be stepping it up, he says.

Meanwhile, Bonita LeFlore, EVP/director of local broadcast, Zenith, says, "Spot really took off in May when the Kerry campaign added $25 million." She projects broadcast spot "up close to 10% because of political."

MindShare President of Local Broadcast Kathy Crawford agrees, depending on the geography. She predicts second-quarter spot will increase 4%-5% in non-swing states but 10% in those 18 pivotal markets. L.A. is sold out, and New York is "tight" for May and June, signaling strong overall spending, she says. As for the third quarter, "in the top 15 markets we're tracking, the marketplace is not sold out, but early news is tight, the Southeast is tight," she says. "Florida is over the top."

Tim McAuliff, president/CEO, Petry Media Corp., sees the second quarter up 16%-18%, with non-political spot sales up 7%. He notes that fast food is good, retail has rebounded, and telco money is strong. Only movie spending remains flat against last year. "I've never seen political dollars spent this early and this big."

Michael Hugger, president, Eagle TV Sales, Katz Television Group, concurs. "Second quarter will post 8%-10% gains, with political accounting for half," he says. "Third quarter, we expect 12%-14% gains."

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