Why GOP Candidate Trump May Be Bad News for Local TV

By Kevin Eck 

In the past, local TV stations have seen an uptick in revenue when election season rolls around. But all that may change if Donald Trump wins the GOP nomination.

The Los Angeles Times reports if Trump’s ability to be disruptive affects the ballot it will also affect local TV stations’ bottom line.

“In an environment like this where somebody is proving a disruptive model — Trump is saying ‘I’m a reality TV star and I know how to move things without using television advertising’ — it’s a scary space,” said Bill Day, a vp at Frank N. Magid Associates.

Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group projected local TV seeing $3.3 billion of an estimated $4.4 billion in political ad spending in 2016.

Those robust projections were made before a Trump nomination emerged as a real possibility. During the primary season, Trump has spent just $17.5 million on paid advertising (TV, radio and cable) through March 24, according to CMAG and Ad Age Datacenter. That’s much less than the amounts spent on behalf of his vanquished opponents Jeb Bush ($80 million) and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio ($70 million) and below the totals for the remaining GOP contenders, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ($32 million) and Ohio Gov. John Kasich ($18.5 million).

Trump has not taken independent expenditure money and does not have the kind of war chest typical for a general election campaign.

“If you’re a TV station group owner and you have a lot of competitive House and Senate races in your state, then you’re OK,” Wilner said. “If you’re an owner who has a lot of stations that have nothing else going on but the presidential race, you’re worried.”

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