Obamacare Could Be Boon To Local TV

Perry Sook, head of the Nexstar station group, appears to be a Republican. Or, maybe he just supports GOP candidates, having contributed to the Mitt Romney and John McCain presidential campaigns, the Federal Election Commission says.

Of course, Romney spent a lot of 2012 advocating against Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) during his White House run, while McCain wants to repeal it as he remains in the senate.



No word on whether Sook backs the ACA or not. But local TV executives have a way of putting personal feelings aside when political or issue-oriented money is to be found -- like maybe $700 million.

So, Sook is clearly happy that the federal government and states are launching educational campaigns to inform people about how the ACA works. Notably, the exchanges that allow the uninsured to buy health care or small business owners to offer it to employees.

The AP estimates about $684 million-plus will be spent on outreach in the PR and advertising realms by the federal and state governments.

The opportunity to enroll in the exchanges starts in October, but the launch isn’t until January. States have the option of administering the program themselves or calling on the federal government to run it or working in tandem.

It appears as if 33 states will call on the federal government either in part or in total to administer the program, while the balance will run their own.

As governments plan ad campaigns to convey information, there are also advocacy groups on both sides of the issue either airing spots expressing their position or expected to later.

For Sook and other leaders of station groups, the money over the next few months should help replace some of the flush political dollars collected last year. Nexstar, a station group operating in dozens of markets, has already received orders worth over $600,000 and expects to land revenue in the seven figures through the end of the year – which was not budgeted for. Spots in Arkansas are already on the air.

(By the way, Nexstar has had a pretty good last year or so under President Obama with its share price showing a 52-week range of between $8 on the low end and a high of nearly $40. Then again, the station business has been surging with all kinds of M&A activity as station values have increased with the prospect of more restransmission consent revenues and political dollars.)

Speaking on an investor call, Sook said Nexstar is primarily receiving interest in ACA-related ads now in the states planning to operate their own exchanges. Nexstar properties in California, Maryland, Vermont and New York are impacted.

Next, Sook expects money to start in states working with the federal government. Nexstar states there include Arkansas, with the spots on air already, along with Illinois and Michigan. Spots on a Maryland station would reach into West Virginia.

Then towards the end of the year, the ads should move in states using the feds to manage their exchanges, he said, which might help Nexstar in Alabama, Florida, Indiana Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.   

That’s 18 states with action. And, of course, don't forget those dollars from issue groups wanting to kill the bill or maybe give it a thumbs up. (Cable networks are likely to benefit notably from those, too.)

So, this fall,, many conservative local-TV sellers might do well by legislation alleged to be an example of overreaching federal power jamming unwanted regulations down the throats of Americans. No judgments on their end, though, right?





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