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KABC-TV Top Station in Political Ad Revenue in U.S.

September 15, 2000|JEFF LEEDS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Even without George W. Bush or Al Gore saturating California's airwaves with campaign commercials, Los Angeles' three network affiliates rank among the top 10 stations in the country for revenue from this year's political advertising, according to a report released Thursday.

The region's three affiliates have earned nearly $21 million from selling air time for political ads in the first seven months of the year, according to data released by the Alliance for Better Campaigns, which is pressuring stations to offer more political news coverage.

KABC-TV Channel 7 was ranked the top station in the country for political ad revenue, earning an estimated $10.4 million from Jan. 1 to July 31, according to the data. KNBC-TV Channel 4 ranked third on the list of the nation's highest-grossing stations with an estimated $6 million and KCBS-TV Channel 2 was seventh with about $4.5 million.

Part of the reason the region's stations ranked so high is the price of air time in Los Angeles, the nation's second-largest media market. The volume of advertising has also been driven by a bevy of ballot issues on the California ballot in November.

KABC officials said about 75% of their political revenue came from ads for ballot measures such as Proposition 26 on school repair and Proposition 38 on school vouchers.

Neither Bush nor Gore has run ads in Los Angeles since the primaries.

Officials from all three Los Angeles stations did not return telephone calls Thursday.

The study was compiled by the research firm Campaign Media Analysis Group to prod television viewers to pressure their local stations to devote more air time to political coverage leading up to November.

The campaign reform advocates say stations are reaping millions from political ads while refusing to commit to running even five minutes per night of candidate coverage for the 30 days before the election, as recommended by a White House panel.

None of Los Angeles' network affiliates have publicly committed to the five-minute standard.

"The broadcasters don't own the airwaves, the public does," said Walter Cronkite, former CBS News anchor and a co-chairman of the Alliance for Better Campaigns. "We lend the industry billions of dollars worth of our airwaves, free of charge, in return for a pledge to serve the public interest. Profiteering on democracy shouldn't be part of the deal."

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