NAB Puts Cable on the Spot

Cable has a great spot advertising story to tell, according to one of the TV industry’s top trade associations — but not the group that most would expect to be telling that story.

Auto-dealer advertising for new cars on broadcast television is expected to decrease by 54% by 2023, while cable advertising will increase by 14%, the National Association of Broadcasters told the FCC in a filing obtained by B&C. “Local cable is a significant competitor to broadcast TV stations in local markets, the trade group said, echoing comments made earlier to the Justice Department.

Why were broadcasters making the case for a market shift toward cable advertising at the expense of broadcast spots? Because they want the FCC to provide some local ownership regulatory relief, and for the DOJ and the Federal Trade Commission to start considering them as part of a larger relevant ad market — cable, online — when deciding whether to let station groups consolidate.

That may be easier said than done. Last week, in requiring Nexstar Media Group to spin off some stations if it wants to own Tribune Broadcasting, the DOJ explained that “cable television spot advertising is at this time a relatively ineffective substitute for broadcast television spot advertising for most advertisers.”

Elsewhere, cable operators were telling the FCC they were hardly the dominant pay video medium, given Netflix and Hulu. (MSOs were pitching the agency on scrapping leased-access rules.)

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.