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Local Market Spotlight: Chattanooga, Tenn.

Mar 12, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Station managers say Chattanooga, Tenn., is pacing between 1 percent and 10 percent below where it was a year ago because of soft national ad sales. But coupled with strong local figures, the market is expected to bounce back by the third quarter.
“Whatever slowdown we’re experiencing is going to work its way out of the system in the next four months,” said Thomas Tolar, general manager at NBC affiliate WRCB-TV. “I really expect the national auto accounts to come back by the third calendar quarter.”
According to the BIA Financial Network, Chattanooga TV revenues were $48.1 million in 2000 and are expected to be about $49.5 million in 2001.
“Local auto dealers have been fairly aggressive in their spending-it’s only in the national auto accounts we’re seeing the slowdown,” Mr. Tolar said. “Local categories are doing surprisingly well right now; we’ve had increases in local sales. We also have a mayor’s race in the city of Chattanooga, which has been quite spirited, so there is unanticipated spending in that race that’s helped as well.”
Top ad categories are auto, fast food, utilities and telecommunications.
Jerry Lingerfelt, general manager at ABC affiliate WTVC-TV, said the market has viewers in four states-Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina. He said the market breaks down as 60 percent local ads and 40 percent national.
Mr. Lingerfelt said news, especially in the morning-such as WTVC’s two-hour “Good Morning Chattanooga”-is a popular vehicle for advertisers. “Advertisers like the morning; the price is right for the show, and the ratings are pretty good,” Mr. Lingerfelt said. “I’m confident that people will come back to their senses and be back on television, where products are moved and sold.”
The local economy is reasonably stable, with the Tennessee Valley Authority, local government and hospitals the largest employers in the region. Mr. Lingerfelt said tourism is the biggest attraction, with popular sites including the local aquarium and the new riverfront development along the Tennessee River.
Both WTVC and WRCB have dedicated one person to sell ads for the Web site. WTVC has “Community Connection,” which has become a popular place on the Web site for advertisers. Businesses can show their products and supply links in the online directory.
WRCB helps small businesses produce their own television ads. For many advertisers that don’t have an agency, Mr. Tolar said the “stumbling block” to buying ads is not knowing how to make the commercial.
“There’s a lot of emphasis right now for developing local direct business-individual businesses that are not represented by an advertising agency-and we’re spending a great deal of time developing new programming ideas, developing creative packages that have television production,” Mr. Tolar said. “We’re helping them make commercials, and [we can] include graphics and jingle work if necessary. In markets our size, it has been a service we’ve provided for many years.”