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TVB: Local Broadcast Q1 Rev. Hurt by Sluggish Auto

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Broadcast TV's advertising performance was a mixed bag in first quarter, with local broadcast TV in the negative column and network TV and syndicated TV showing growth. According to a Television Bureau of Advertising analysis of TNS Media Intelligence data, released Thursday, June 19, local broadcast dipped 1.6 percent to just under $4 billion while network TV inched up 1.7 percent to $6.8 billion. Syndicated TV had the best quarter of the three segments, up 11.2 percent to $1.1 billion. Combined, broadcast TV grew 1.4 percent to $11.9 billion.

Local broadcast revenue continued to be challenged by a sinking automotive category, down 13 percent in first quarter. With few exceptions, all the major automotive companies and their dealer associations, including General Motors, Toyota, Honda, Chrysler-Cerberus, Nissan, and Ford, cut budgets. One notable exception was the Ford Motor Co. Dealer Association, which increased spending by nearly 29 percent, to make it the top spending advertiser in local broadcast for the quarter.

Of the top 10 categories, six were down, including restaurants (-3.8 percent); car and truck dealers (-3.6 percent); furniture stores (-5 percent); financial (-5.5 percent); an schools, colleges and camps (-1.1 percent).

Although local TV stations are expecting a political windfall later this year, political, up nearly 557 percent to $63.7 million, wasn't enough to offset other weakening core categories in the business.

Also moderating spending this year after aggressive branding campaigns the previous years were the telecom companies. AT&T reduced its budget by 28.8 percent and Verizon cut its budget by 23.3 percent.

Cable, faced with competition from the telcos, upped its budget by a hefty 45.5 percent, making it the eighth largest advertiser in local TV.