Local Market Spotlight: Macon, Ga.

Aug 13, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Though advertisers have become more cautious in Macon, Ga., station managers said the Robins Air Force Base keeps the local economy stable.
Top ad categories in Macon include auto and electronics. According to BIA Financial Network, Macon TV revenues were $30 million in 2000 and are expected to be $28.8 million in 2001.
“Business has been very, very tough for the first half of the year,” said Chris Jordan, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Continental Television. “Auto has been off dramatically; fast food has been off dramatically; retail has also been off. The bright spot in this market is consumer products-Procter & Gamble, Kraft, General Foods. Consumer products is the only category up for first half.”
Mr. Jordan said things are already looking up for the second half of the year. “Our percent of finals for all key categories is looking a heck of a lot stronger than it was in the first half,” he said. “I like what I see with auto and fast food for the second half. I anticipate those categories to finish strong for the second half of the year.”
At ABC affiliate WPGA-TV, General Sales Manager John Lynn said the Air Force base is the largest maintenance depot in the country, and its payroll is the largest for a single industry in the state, employing 16,000 people. The base houses the B-1 bomber.
“That industry plus the government contract workers has kept the economy alive in this market,” Mr. Lynn said. “The unemployment rate across Georgia is 4.2 percent, but I think it would be a lot lower than that in Macon. We have very few layoffs in this market. So it’s a healthy market.”
Mr. Lynn said while auto dealers are still selling cars, local merchants are more cautious. The station has increased its sales staff and in May 2001 launched a half-hour 6:30 p.m. newscast.
“We’re not getting as many dollars in this market as we should nationally, but we’re getting the same dollars locally as we’ve always gotten,” Mr. Lynn said. “We’ve got a new Honda dealership and a Chrysler dealership. They wouldn’t do it unless the money was there. This market, compared with other markets, is doing extremely well.”
The market has 67 percent cable penetration, and Cox is the major cable system.
Jim McLendon, general manager of ad sales at Cox’s Cable Rep, said Cable Rep offers commercial insertions in up to 45 cable networks. Local businesses can also buy up to seven geographical zones within the market. Top ad categories on cable are auto, furniture and medical.
“Auto has been strong pretty much all year,” Mr. McLendon said. “We are faring better than the broadcasters, from what I’ve heard.”
Cable is pacing ahead of a year ago, with local sales increasing by double digits.
“We’ve found as the economy has tightened up in the past six months, the buyer is more astute,” Mr. McLendon said. “They are really doing their due diligence before they buy, and they’re seeing the increased value of cable. We have a lot more new advertisers at this point this year than we did a year ago. As advertising budgets have shrunk, people are looking for the best bargain and, fortunately, cable is coming out on top.”