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Local Market Spotlight: Jackson, Miss.

Jun 18, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Station managers say Jackson is pacing 1 percent to 5 percent behind last year, with the automobile and telecommunications ad categories down. However, auto and telecom are still top ad categories, in addition to furniture.
According to BIA Financial Network, Jackson TV revenues were $43.4 million in 2000 and are expected to be $43.7 million in 2001.
“When you get into a situation like this, your emphasis is on new business development and creative sales projects,” said General Manager Lou Morlino of CBS affiliate WJTV. “We’ve been working on marketing partnerships with different clients in the market.”
Mr. Morlino said news is still a popular venue, with morning news growing. A year ago, WJTV expanded its 6 a.m.-to-8 a.m. morning news by a half-hour, moving the start time to 5:30 a.m.
Mr. Morlino said the market’s ad sales breakdown is 35 percent national and 65 percent local.
“I think it’s going to be a challenging year,” Mr. Morlino said. “That’s where we’re getting hardest hit-when the national business is down, it’s down. Locally you have the ability to create dollars to offset shortfall.”
The local economy is stable, though. Since Jackson is the state capital, government is the major employer in the market. Mr. Morlino said telecommunications company WorldCom is headquartered in the market, and the big news is that Nissan will build an auto manufacturing plant here in the next year and a half.
“It’s going to add thousands of jobs to the area,” Mr. Morlino said. “They just made the deal with the state and are purchasing land and preparing land. The company is taking applications for hiring. The direct impact is going to be very big, and the indirect impact will be the byproduct of businesses that will come in [to the market].”
ABC affiliate WAPT-TV General Sales Manager Jeff Miller said the fast food category is staying level, which is a pleasant surprise.
“This market reacts a little bit slower than some of the major and medium-size markets, but the turnaround is on the horizon,” Mr. Miller said. “With my conversations with advertisers, I think by fourth quarter we’ll be in a turnaround period. From our own perspective, we’re doing everything we can to shore up our efforts. We’re expanding sales staff and expanding our sales products.”
WAPT sells convergence packages to advertisers. They will include over-the-air spots as well as sponsorships on its Web site.
Six months ago, WAPT launched an interactive phone line, which has become a popular vehicle for advertisers to sponsor. Viewers can call the WAPT Info Line phone number and be directly connected to sponsors such as law firms, medical offices and financial services.
“The overall strategy is to expand the staff but also give the staff different tools, really providing some more marketing efforts to our clients, rather than just a 30-second commercial,” Mr. Miller said. “The only place you can really control your destiny is in local, and that’s where you can make some strides. But you have to give them options.”
According to BIA Financial Network, Jackson has a 59 percent cable penetration. Time Warner is the major cable system in the market, but Lovecomm sells its ads.
According to sources in the market, Lovecomm is a “good competitor” to the broadcast stations and has about $3 million to $4 million in revenue a year.
Lovecomm offers advertisers up to 39 cable channels in which to insert ads. It also breaks up the market into two geographical regions so advertisers don’t have to buy the entire market as they do on broadcast stations.