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Political Gives Spot a Lift

Despite a rush of political dollars, broadcast spot remains soft but growing.

"Political spending is up, but not enough to change this market," explains Jean Pool, EVP/ COO, Universal McCann LCI. "Advertisers committed too much money to the upfront, and the economy remains worrisome."

Bonita LeFlore, EVP/director of local broadcast, Zenith, agrees. "We're not overly sold," she says, adding, "There's definitely an uptick in those 17 states with heavy political spending." Florida is "very tight," she says. She rates automotive, financial, movie studios, and telecoms as strong.

"Stations are still nervous," observes Anne Elkins, SVP/ director of local broadcast,

MediaCom. "Political is helping in a lot of markets, but there are no price increases." She sees a flat second quarter, with difficulty placing buys in only Florida and Pennsylvania.

"Florida's been tight since January," says Lourdes Marquez, SVP/director of local broadcast, Horizon Media. "So are L.A. and Phoenix. And it's not just political, it's tourism." Spot is "flat to slightly up in certain markets."

Tim McCauliff, CEO, Petry Media, agrees first quarter was "lethargic," with six of the top 10 categories down. "But retail, fast food, and travel are positive now. Our outlook is much brighter." Spot is up 6% second quarter, he adds, "and that's without politics."

At Katz Continental Television Sales, "we are definitely pacing up in the middle single digits," says President Michael Spiesman. He notes positive retail and fast-food buys, although telcos and utilities are "lackluster in some markets, booming in others."