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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Broadcast Boon Anticipated as Secession Foes Spread the Word

Broadcast Boon Anticipated as Secession Foes Spread the Word


Staff Reporter

Whether secession happens or not, local broadcast outlets are expected to reap millions of dollars from advertising as the campaign heats up between now and November.

And unlike federal races where lower ad rates must be charged, both those for and against a breakup of the San Fernando Valley and Hollywood from Los Angeles will have to pay the going rate for TV or radio spots. Rates could also be driven up if Gov. Gray Davis and challenger Bill Simon Jr. buy lots of advertising time in their race for governor.

The extra dollars couldn’t have come at a better time for L.A. stations, which only recently began to recover from a long ad spending slump.

“It’s shaping up to be a pretty active fall,” said a local sales manager at one TV station. “We’ll be going into (September and October) with rates that are higher because we don’t want to sell out too early.”

L.A. Mayor James Hahn has vowed to raise at least $5 million to fight a breakup. Secession proponents expect to raise between $2 million and $4 million, but may be forced to seek out more money to keep up with their well-funded rivals.

Benjamin Goddard of Goddard Clausen Porter Novelli, the public relations firm representing both the Valley and Hollywood secession movements, said their side would focus on cable and broadcast television and radio. The anti-secession side will definitely run TV ads and other media are “on the table,” said Kam Kuwata, political strategist for the anti-secession campaign.

Door-to-door campaign

Both sides are emphasizing grass-roots efforts, which include phone banks and door-to-door contact from volunteers. But Kuwata conceded that “it’s hard to meet with hundreds of thousands of people all across the city.”

To make a real impression on voters, secession proponents will need between $5 million and $7 million, said Matt Klink, vice president of the political consulting firm Cerrell Associates Inc.

“The big challenge that the pro-secessionists have is being able to raise enough money to get up on television,” Klink said.

If either side begins to attack the other on radio or TV, Klink said, it could kick off a spiral of spending. “They’ll be paying top dollar in the second largest media market in the United States,” Klink said. “You’re not going to get a lot of bargains in the L.A. market.”

Federal candidates must be given the lowest rate for broadcast advertising but state and local candidates as well as supporters of ballot measures can be charged market prices.

Spending in the gubernatorial race could help drive up rates for secession ads. Gov. Gray Davis, who spent $10 million in primary, is expected to pony up more than three times as much as Simon in the general election. If the Democratic incumbent and his opponent begin buying up ad time on local stations, the pro- and anti-secession forces will have to pay more for their spots.

Secession proponents will have the greater burden in getting their message across because they must convince voters to upend the status quo, said Klink, who opposes an L.A. break-up. “It’s much easier to get somebody to vote no,” he said.

Push in the fall

Secession-related ads could start running any day now but any onslaught is unlikely to come before Labor Day. One TV station is already selling advertising time for the fall and increased demand is expected to drive rates up by at least 20 percent. “Any mistakes that we make with pricing will be (made up by) the political spending,” said a sales executive at the station.

On the radio side, it’s the news and talk stations that stand to gain the most from secession-related advertising. Those stations attract older listeners who tend to more closely follow news and are more likely to vote.

“I would imagine that we would see some serious activity from the secession,” said Jeff Thomas, general sales manager for top-rated talk station KFI-AM (640) and talk/sports outlet KLAC-AM (570).

During the prime hours of 5 to 8 a.m., a high-rated station could sell a 60-second spot for about $1,500. “Radio is a very powerful medium in Los Angeles,” Goddard said. “With the diverse population of Los Angeles, radio is critical to communicate with various audiences.”

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