Profiting From Two Worlds



What They Do

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, the clocks read differently from the rest of that enormous state. "This is the only city in Texas in the Mountain time zone," notes Larry Bracher, general manager of NBC affiliate KTSM-TV. "Everyone else is Central time. And it's always confusing to buyers, to national reps, to syndicators."

But advertisers and their reps can read the census reports, and the money is pouring into this geographically isolated and heavily Hispanic market, which crosses into the Las Cruces area of New Mexico—and adds some of that state's lucrative political and other advertising to its Texas dollars.

The 101st-ranked DMA has a per capita income of only $11,248, according to BIA Financial, and local TV executives say poverty is indeed conspicuous. But the market nonetheless jumps 21 spots, to No. 80, when ranked by revenue. And, when many markets dropped 10%, 15%, even as much as 25% from banner year 2000 to 2001, El Paso slipped a minuscule 0.4%.

"We weren't affected by a lot of the dotcom fluctuations," notes John Witte, general manager of Fox affiliate KFOX-TV. The market is influenced, say Witte and other TV executives, by the value of the peso, by the thousands of Americans and Mexicans who cross the border in either direction daily, by the twin-plant maquiladora system, and by a strong local military presence. Because of nearby Fort Bliss, local news operations have spent much time before and since the war in Iraq began tracking the many, sometimes tragic local connections to that conflict.

Spanish-language Entravision-owned Univision affiliate KINT(TV) is the market leader and attracts an enormous amount of advertising. But executives at the local English-language stations insist that the local population is far more bilingual and that, "if you want to reach the majority and mainstream of El Paso, you've got to buy English-language TV," says Kevin Lovell, general manager at ABC affiliate KVIA-TV.