El Paso, Texas

Sep 10, 2001  •  Post A Comment

With national ads having all but dried up in El Paso, Texas, some station managers say the market is pacing between 5 percent and 10 percent behind where it was a year ago.
According to BIA Financial Network, El Paso TV revenues were about $42.7 million in 2000 and are expected to be $42.7 million in 2001. Top ad categories are medical, auto, fast food and retail.
“The El Paso market was down in the first six months, not unlike other medium and small markets,” said Michael Spiesman, president of Continental Television sales. “Third quarter is improved, albeit still down vs. last year. The downward trend is fueled by lowered auto spending. That decline is tempered by new money from various telecommunications companies, which, by the way, has become the third-largest national category in that market. In a market like El Paso, retail is the No. 2 category.”
KTSM-TV General Manager Richard Pearson said, “National has disappeared,” but he expects things to pick up a little at the end of the year. KTSM, an NBC affiliate, has a local marketing agreement to run The WB/UPN affiliate KKWB-TV. KTSM is also hoping to sell its Web site, which is still given to advertisers as added value. Mr. Pearson said local sales make up 70 percent, while national sales are about 30 percent in the market.
El Paso is across the Rio Grande River from the city of Juarez, Mexico. The market has about 74 percent Hispanic surnames.
“Mexico is 100 yards across the river, and we have every Fortune 500 company in the world situated because they have twin plants-they have assembly plants in Mexico and packaging plants in El Paso,” Mr. Pearson said. “The economy is healthy even though there is an ad downturn.”
Companies in the market include Polo, which assembles shirts and apparel in Mexico and then packages them in El Paso. RCA television sets are assembled in Mexico and then shipped to El Paso.
“That’s why local is doing well,” Mr. Pearson said. “But our per capita income is much less than the rest of the state of Texas because of our border proximity and the low wages in the market.”
David Candelaria, general manager of Univision affiliate KINT-TV, said his station is pacing ahead of the English-language stations. He says the market is up 4.3 percent from a year ago. “Auto is not our best category,” Mr. Candelaria said. “We sell on both sides of the border.” He said health, local retail, fast food, Mexican furniture and grocery chains are top ad categories on his station. KINT is also hoping to sell its Web site.
“The border issue is crucial,” Mr. Candelaria said. “Thirty-five percent of all retail sales in El Paso is driven by Mexican nationals. They walk across the bridge to come shopping. We have 60 million northbound crossings a year–they cross to do everything: to shop, to work, to stay. And 25 percent to 30 percent of the students at the University of Texas-El Paso commute from across the border.”
But Mr. Spiesman said bilingual homes are tuning in to English stations. “One of the more significant realizations in the El Paso market is that the large Spanish-speaking community often chooses the English-language television stations for their news and entertainment programming,” he said.
According to BIA Financial Network, El Paso has 60 percent cable penetration. Time Warner is the major cable system in the market. According to sources, Time Warner brings in about $2 million in ad revenue in the market. Time Warner offers advertisers 40 cable networks on which to insert commercials.