Rare good news for local broadcast TV: Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, the Democratic and Republican party apparatus, and independent groups are expected to spend $800 million on TV advertising before November, smashing a previous record of $500 million in 2004, according to TNS’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, via Reuters.
Big stations in battleground states like Pennsylvania and Ohio were already expected to reap significant dollars during the campaign, but with Obama opting out of the public campaign-finance system and promising to challenge McCain in rock-solid Republican states, the dollars will be spread further than ever before. Reuters says Obama has already bought TV time in Republican strongholds Alaska, Montana and Indiana.
Obama’s decision to forgo Federal matching funds means he can spend as much as he can raise in the final two months of the campaign, while McCain will be limited to an $85 million cap. Both campaigns are spending $250,000 to $300,000 a day, TNS estimates.
Who’s going to benefit? Quite a few companies that have taken a beating in the public markets: CBS Corp. (CBS), Sinclair Broadcasting (SBGI), Hearst-Argyle TV (HTV), Gannett (GCI), Meredith (MDP), LIN TV (TVL), ABC/Disney (DIS), Belo Corp. (BLC), News Corp. (NWS), etc.
What political spending will do for broadcasters is shield, or at least delay, the impact of a weak advertising market and replace some struggling ad categories. There should also be significant spill-over to local cable as local stations run out of ad inventory close to the election.
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