Commentary

Auto Ad Dollars Have No Sway In Local TV Newsrooms, Right?

For any TV station in these hard times, the focus on automotive advertising has become an obsession. For some, it may have taken a wrong turn.  

In Las Vegas there are accusations that as part of a media buy made by an auto dealership, interviews were  placed in local newscasts at network affiliates KLAS, the CBS affiliate; KTNV (ABC) and KVVU (Fox) -- all without letting viewers know that those interviews were paid placements.

Stations refute the claims. But in these recessionary times, one wonders whether some TV stations might be thinking of going over the "wall." Intrepid and serious news organizations will tell you the wall between editorial and advertising is a big one -- and impenetrable. That is, you get no editorial "favors" because you made a $100,000-plus local TV advertising buy.

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Ironically, the alleged media buys were about a "liquidation" sale campaign created by the United Dodge Chrysler Jeep dealershi.

Make no mistake, any big marketer would love to have influence over a local TV newscast.

Decades ago, stories and accusations would occasionally surface that strong local auto dealerships could use leverage against a TV station -- specifically in preventing hard-hitting local TV news stories about, say, how tough a specific auto dealer's sales practices were.

With local auto dealers typically giving TV stations 30% or so of their annual advertising dollars, tempers can run high -- from all perspectives.

Massive dealership cutbacks -- such as the ones at General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler -- have had their effects on the local TV stations. Specifically, dealerships closing mean the drying up of local TV media dollars.

Whatever stories might have been done about auto dealerships years ago, much has changed. The auto business isn't exactly strong these days, and no one knows exactly where it is headed.

The only local hard news stories about the automotive business are, for the most part, about automotive dealers going out of business. Wherever stations are going, they should look further down the road.

3 comments about "Auto Ad Dollars Have No Sway In Local TV Newsrooms, Right? ".
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  1. Pamela Noga from WJMN-TV3, October 13, 2009 at 12:13 p.m.

    Nothing new here, but it isn't just auto dealers. I'm sure they have to be especially careful in the larger markets, but in the small, rural markets, these kind of dealings run amok.

  2. Ken Braswell, October 13, 2009 at 12:27 p.m.

    The perceived wall between editorial and advertising is more a perception than a reality. Whether they want to admit it or not, TV news departments are continually engaged in promoting businesses they believe are " real" news...you see it all the time with new medical procedures from docs who are doing nothing but promoting the newest version of "botox". Or, from the latest "chef du jour" and his exploits, or the newest "green" business. It's nothing more than good PR people knowing how to manipulate news.
    But, since this is a car dealer, it must be "out of bounds".
    Hey guys in the news department....print has been doing this for years and you don't hear a groundswell of complaints from consumers! This particular case smacks of nothing more than sour grapes from a station that didn't get bought!

  3. Stanford Crane from NewGuard Entertainment Corp, October 13, 2009 at 1:17 p.m.

    Hey, Wayne, I'm a big fan, but don't forget to hit the spell check button before posting.

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