Excluding Political, Spot TV up in Q4

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Excluding political advertising, local TV broadcast revenues will climb 1%-4% in the fourth quarter, buyers and sellers say. According to a newly revised ZenithOptimedia forecast, local spending may be a little better than expected due to the robust network scatter market, which tends to funnel some dollars to local markets.

Fourth quarter national spot looks "pretty healthy," says Richard Cotter, senior partner/USA director, local broadcast, Mindshare. "We've seen a couple of accounts coming to local because they couldn't secure the inventory they wanted in national. September and October are pretty tight." Meanwhile, the recall factor looms. "The onslaught is about to begin in the California governor's race," he adds. "About $10 million in political spending was predicted."

Maribeth Papuga, MediaVest SVP/director of local broadcast, notes a fourth quarter rise over last year, "up 1% to 2%, taking out political." She dismisses rumors of early political spending among presidential contenders as "a ploy by stations to set a higher bar. This happens every two years and we recommend people take a longer lead time."

Mindshare President of Local Broadcast Kathy Crawford shares this fourth quarter view. "It's not a huge amount over last year."

Crawford explains: "It doesn't mean the marketplace isn't tight right now. But at what rate is it tight?" Crawford is predicting 2003 broadcast spot numbers will be "flat to down."

Jim Beloyianis, president, Katz Television Group, is projecting a 4% fourth quarter increase excluding political. "Including political the real number is down 15% to 16% [because] last year, 25% of our billing was political."

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