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An Unusual Market

Binghamton, N.Y., is not your typical TV market. The only full-power VHF signal in town, WBNG-TV takes the lion's share of viewers and revenue. BIA estimates its 2002 revenue at about $10 million, well over half the market's estimated $18.5 million.

WBNG-TV General Manager Joe McNamara also oversees the market's WB cable-only outlet, WBXI. "That's been a great promotional platform for our CBS station, because we can reach the younger audience that we typically wouldn't get."

Clear Channel entered the market last year, taking over ABC affiliate WIVT(TV) and NBC-tied low-power WBGH(TV) as part of its acquisition of Ackerly Group. Northwest Broadcasting Inc. owns WICZ-TV (Fox) and WBPN(TV) (UPN).

In 2002, IBM Corp. appeared ready to shutter its microelectronics factory at Endicott, N.Y., perhaps putting 2,000 people out of work. But a group of local investors put together a deal to take over the plant, and, today, Endicott Interconnect Technologies has pumped new optimism into the economy of the area, known as The Southern Tier.

Automotive, typically, is the top advertising category and remains relatively strong. Telecommunications spending has dried up, however, contributing to an estimated market-wide revenue decline of about 2% this year.

"There was so much Verizon money in the market last year, both in spot and direct-response, but it just didn't come back this year," said John Birchall, general manager, WBGH/WIVT.

Cable penetration—76% in the DMA, 82% in the metro area—stands well above the national average. Because of the region's hilly terrain and the preponderance of low-power stations, local stations garner only about 42% of all television viewing.

WBNG-TV is the only station that does a full array of local news throughout the week. Clear Channel's WIVT and WBGH simulcast a weeknight newscast and produce a morning news program for sister stations in Utica and Watertown, but the Binghamton stations recently dropped their weekend local news broadcasts. WICZ-TV subsequently launched a 10 p.m. Sunday newscast.