L.A. TV stations join ’92 election losers

Defeated politicians aren’t the only ones licking their wounds today.

Los Angeles TV stations are among the big losers in the 1992 presidential sweepstakes.

Political spending for local spots, which had been expected to provide a significant boost to declining profit margins, will likely come in at levels well below the 1988 and ’90 elections.

Local broadcasters took it on the chin after President Bush all but conceded California to Democratic nominee Bill Clinton.

When the Clinton campaign caught wind that Bush had written off the state and did not intend to target it with regional ads, the Democrats pulled out their advertising dollars and targeted the money toward swing states.

Independent Ross Perot also opted to stay out of the local TV market for the most part, choosing instead to join the other two candidates in buying network spots.

Consequently, stations lost millions of dollars in advertising revenue at a time when Southern California’s economy is still weak from the recession.

With little financial relief in sight, local stations have resumed the painful task of laying off employees (see separate story).

Adding to the broadcasters’ woes this political year, state ballot propositions failed to generate much spending.

In fact, the only bright spot for the stations has been the U.S. Senate races. Spending increased dramatically during the last five weeks of the campaign.

Station exex are estimating they will reap $ 16 million to $ 18 million during the fourth quarter. That compares to $ 22.4 million in 1988 and $ 21.8 million in the 1990 gubernatorial elections, when a torrent of initiatives appeared on the ballot.

The ballot measures and an active primary race actually resulted in more political dollars being spent in the non-presidential election year.

In 1990, campaigns forked over $ 36.9 million to L.A. stations. Four years earlier, the total was $ 33.2 million.

Even in ’88, most of the local political spending had been targeted toward the ballot propositions since Bush was out to a big lead in the state.

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