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Will Next Week’s Election Spell Doom for Television?

mccain_obama.jpgRemember how back in the late nineties no one could really imagine what life would be like after 2000? (And really, who among us could have envisioned YouTube?) And then everyone freaked out about Y2K and welded all the manhole covers shut in Manhattan. Well, with only eight days left to this long, strange, and extremely profitable election cycle it looks like the media may be experiencing their own sort of political Y2K. Says David Carr:

No more nights of watching Anderson Cooper make the eager hand-off to the wise David Gergen. Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly will have to make do with political autopsy, while Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will have to find humor speculating about those first 100 days. And if the current polls hold (and don’t hold your breath), Tina Fey might have to make do without Gov. Sarah Palin, along with the rest of us.

What will we watch! Perhaps more to the point in this calamitous media environment, how will advertisers make money? The last time we heard an industry panic this much over the conclusion of their favorite product was when Harry Potter ended.

But however bereft you and I, along with our broadcast political familiars, might be feeling once the balloons drop, it will be nothing compared to those who live and die on local television advertising. For the last several months, local stations, and to some degree networks, have been frolicking in all the money spilled by the Democratic campaign and the efforts of the Republicans to play catch-up.

According to TV Week the election has brought $750 million in advertising revenue to the television industry. Of course, there is the argument to be made that one of the reasons the election became the national past-time it did was because of the writer’s strike. The problem now is that viewers have not returned with the writers. The other problem? Well we all know what television does when they stumble upon a success story – duplicate it! Get ready for the mid-term elections, they’re set to begin in about ten days.

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