Political pain in Michigan, Florida
EmptyNEW YORK -- It hasn't been decided whether Florida and Michigan will get a second chance at a Democratic primary, but there's one constituency that's hoping the states will: TV stations.
One Michigan station manager who asked not to be named, said he "goes to bed every night praying there will be a do-over."
Florida and Michigan moved their primary dates into January, a decision Democratic party leaders punished by stripping them of their delegates. Neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama campaigned in those states. More importantly to stations' bottom lines, there weren't any ads. Nielsen Monitor-Plus said no ad units for either Democratic candidate ran in Florida or Michigan this cycle.
"They didn't spend at all ... which was a very big problem for us," said Julio Marenghi, president of sales at CBS Television Stations.
CBS owns WFOR-TV and WBFS-TV in Miami and WWJ-TV and KTXA-TV in Detroit. Marenghi said the company had budgeted for a piece of the projected $2.5 billion in political spending this cycle.
It's more than just academic, not just for CBS' stations group but also for the other Big Four networks that own stations in Detroit, Miami and other cities in the two states. The same is true for pure-play TV station owners: While they might have cleaned up in such early states as Iowa and New Hampshire, not having the Democratic side had to hurt.
"We'd welcome another election or a run-off or a complete separate primary for the Democrats in both those states," Marenghi said.
There's no way to know whether any of it will happen. Why commit millions of dollars in TV ads in a state if it's unknown whether it will matter? There's still the next big primary, April 22, in Pennsylvania.
The Keystone Sate also has a heavy presence of O&Os; CBS has two stations each in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
"No one's spent yet, but we're anticipating that it's just going to come and we're never going to look back," Marenghi said.
Meanwhile, CBS still is expecting an overall fine year on the stations front thanks to political ads. CEO Leslie Moonves said Tuesday at a Florida media conference that he's hoping for a "long and rough" presidential race.
Moonves told investors he is cheered by the fact that the Democratic race is continuing and that John McCain is raising lots of money to combat the eventual Democratic nominee.
"That's music to our ears," Moonves said. "We want this to be as long and as dirty as humanly possible."