Politics As Usual: Local Lags '03 TV Ad Recovery

Broadcast television revenues rose only slightly in the third quarter but TV stations posted a loss, finding it hard to compete with comparisons to 2002's heavy political spending, the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB) said Thursday.

Using data from TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, TVB estimated total broadcast TV ad spending increased 0.8 percent to $9.76 billion in the quarter ending Sept. 30 compared to the same period a year ago. That included a 17.8 percent increase to $833 million for syndicated TV and a 5.3 percent increase to $4.68 billion for network TV. But local broadcast TV stations, which are represented by the TVB, saw a 6.3 percent drop in revenues to $4.25 billion in the third quarter.

TVB President Chris Rohrs said the results weren't surprising considering the amount of political revenues stations had in the months before the 2002 elections.

Automotive was the strongest category for spot TV, at $2.72 billion twice as large as the second biggest category, restaurants at $995.02 million. Automotive was up 1.3 percent; restaurants were down 11.3 percent. Car and truck dealers were the third biggest category, followed by telecommunications and furniture stores to round out the top five.



Most of the top 10 advertisers in the quarter were automotive, with DaimlerChrysler AG increasing its ad spending by 10.1 percent to move into first place. It was followed by the Ford Motor Co. Dealer Association, General Motors Corp., the General Motors Corp. Dealer Association and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. Other top advertisers included Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Ford Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. Dealer Association, SBC Communications Inc. and Yum Brands Inc.

Most of the publicly traded TV station group owners have been warning investors that they're concerned about the fourth-quarter revenues. They've indicated that they expect to take a big hit, since October 2002 - the month before the midterm elections - were even stronger for TV stations. There wasn't much election advertising revenues to go around this year, and certainly not compared to the flood that is expected in next year's presidential and Congressional elections.

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