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Political Pressures WICS-TV Inventory

SPRINGFIELD, ILL.: Political revenues befalling TV stations across the country are coming at a price for at least one. ABC affiliate WICS-TV, the Sinclair-owned station serving Springfield and Decatur, is being overwhelmed with demand for campaign ads, The State Journal-Registerreports.

In an effort to accommodate demand, WICS is rerunning its mid-day newscast, and is considering expanding the weekend newscasts to a full hour, the news outlet said. Some regular advertisers have been pushed of the air, WICS general manager, Tim Mathis, told the Journal-Register.

“It caught us by surprise,” Mathis said. “As far as what’s happened in the last three weeks, I’ve never seen it come so much so fast without warning.” He said it would be a seven-figure market. Two candidates alone have run or reserved 822 spots between Labor Day and Election day.

Campaign ad spending typically boosts TV revenues during election years. This year is particularly notable, however, because it comes on the heels of a year of depressed revenues, and because a Supreme Court ruling freed up corporate political spending. The total political spend on broadcast TV had reached $1.23 billion by Oct. 10, according to Wells Fargo. The final total is expected to exceed $2 billion. The demand is such that ABC and NBC have freed up national air time for local stations.
-- Deborah D. McAdams