Broadcast Spot Market Softens

Could excessive political spending in the swing states be masking flat
to down spending across other broadcast spot markets?

According to various media buyers, while the political cash is flowing
to battleground states, key categories, notably automotive and retail, are
getting bruised by a downturn in consumer spending. The New York market, for
example, is soft.

"Automotive sales are down," notes Colleen Gelber, SVP, local broadcast,
PHD-New York. "People are scared to spend that kind of money, even with deep

She notes that, although GM is spending freely, Ford and Chrysler buys
are flat.

Jean Pool, EVP/COO, Universal McCann LCI, adds, "We see Chrysler
spending as down, with Ford flat and foreign auto up. I don't see the economy
turned around enough."

Retail also is looking slow, despite back-to-school spending. "Retail
isn't doing great in third quarter," Pool says.

Gelber describes retail buying as "flat to down."

"Non–swing-state markets are just soft," Gelber adds. "I know of NBC
stations out there with unused inventory even though ratings for the Olympics
are up."

Absent political adverting, third-quarter spending could end up flat to
only slightly up over the same period last year, a tough stat in a presidential
and Olympic year.

Craig Broitman, president, Millennium Sales & Marketing, part of the
Katz TV Group, suggests spot without the political category will be up "2%-3%"
in the third quarter, down from previous estimates by media-rep firm Katz.

Those numbers triple when political is factored in. "With political,
broadcast spot looks up 14%-15%," he says. "Spending in the swing states is
through the roof."