TV STATION HOOKS UP WITH CABLE OUTLET;NEW YORK'S WETM CRAFTS LOCAL MARKETING AGREEMENT

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A TV station in upstate New York has entered into a local marketing agreement with a cable TV operator.

NBC affiliate WETM in Elmira has signed a deal with Time Warner Cable in Binghamton to bring WETM's signal to that neighboring area. WETM will sell regional ad time for both areas, and Time Warner Cable will sell the local Binghamton commercials that will be inserted at the cable headend, where the cable signal emanates from.

Time Warner Cable also will insert 5 hours of syndicated programming that has been purchased by WETM to air just in Binghamton. The programs replace syndicated shows WETM broadcasts in Elmira but are on other stations in Binghamton.

SWITCH TO FOX

Ironically, the Binghamton market is actually larger than Elmira's. But Binghamton's NBC outlet switched to Fox recently.

Local marketing agreements originated in radio but have become fairly common in TV. Usually a strong station in a market will take over sales and/or programming functions of a weaker station in that market or a neighboring one. But mixing in cable is unusual.

WETM General Manager Bob Grissom said he could not recall another such broadcast/cable arrangement.

"This is the most intelligent LMA I've heard of yet, and it's one I support fully," said Jean Pool, exec VP-director of North American media services at J. Walter Thompson USA, New York. "It sounds like a model of what can be done in smaller markets that have a limited number of TV stations."

Most LMAs, since they utilize one group of salespeople to sell time on two stations, try and use that clout to put agency media buyers at a disadvantage in rate negotiations, said Ms. Pool. But the structure of the WETM/Time Warner arrangement is such that local ads will be sold separately by each entity.

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