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Political Ads

Sold Out: As Election Day Nears, Many Stations Have No More Ad Time Left to Sell

BrackettParkMplsElection2012_640_1They’d sell more if they had any left to sell, but many stations head into the last weekend before Election Day simply sold out. “Campaigns and third-party groups are finding it difficult to even find spots to purchase,” one political advertising guru told The Associated Press.

In some markets, stations aren’t simply sold out–they’re oversold:

In the past two weeks alone, Manchester’s WMUR-TV told political groups that their ads during “Good Morning America,” ”General Hospital” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” among others, could not be aired because the station oversold chunks of time, according to contracts filed with the Federal Communications Commission.

“The sell-out rates are high and … television remains king in political races,” said Joy Baer, president of the Chicago-based advertising technology firm STRATA.

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Charlotte Reporter Looks at Why Politicians Use Local News Clips in Campaign Ads


After his news reports appeared in ads for North Carolina Senate candidate Thom Tillis (R) and incumbent Kay Hagan (D), WCNC reporter Stuart Watson said he got tired of having people ask him if he “approved this message.” He asked a local expert about the practice of using news clips from local TV stations without permission.

Turns out, no permission is needed. But a local expert told the reporter for the Charlotte, N.C. NBC affiliate, the candidates are trying to bask in the reflected glow of a local station’s credibility.

So why DO campaigns use news clips? Why don’t they just hire better looking actors?

“It is an attempt to lend some credibility to the accusations the candidates and their campaigns are trying to make,” said Catawba College political scientist Michael Bitzer.

Does the deluge of TV ads even make a difference?

“I think for the average voter it’s probably just a wash,” Bitzer said. “They have already muted that particular ad.”

30 Minutes on Philadelphia TV News: Lots of Political Ads, Zero Political Stories

KYW-TV_openAnd herein lies some of the problem with getting, as study after study suggest most Americans do, most of your news from local TV: you may be missing something.

The Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit that advocates for open government, took a look at thirty minutes of local television–specifically, Philadelphia’s CBS-owned KYW. Researchers watched the station’s 6:00 p.m. newscast and found plenty of politics–in the form of nasty political ads–but absolutely no news coverage of the political races themselves:
Read more

Kentucky ND Tells Senate Candidates to Stop Using News Clips in Campaign Spots

wave Rep SenateIt’s election time, when candidates pay to run spots either bashing their opponents or making themselves look good.

Here in New York City, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is using clips from WABC and WCBS along with some national news outlets to show he’s tough on crime.

Bill Shory, news director for Louisville, Ky. NBC affiliate WAVE, said the use of his station’s reports in campaign ads have led his viewers to believe WAVE is endorsing one candidate over another.

In an open letter on the station’s website, Shory said he’s had enough and has presented a two step plan to deal with the issue.

Shory said he’s gotten complaints about ads from the Senate candidates Mitch McConnell and Alison Grimes. He said he sent the two letters, (click on their names to read the letters) asking them to stop using clips from WAVE in their campaign ads. He then said WAVE would let the viewers know what’s going on by “presenting ‘all facts, statements, and coverage truthfully and in the proper context.” Read more

WMAQ Report Used for Governor Pat Quinn’s Re-Election Campaign Ad

With the midterm elections just a few weeks away, local stations are being bombarded with political ads. Chicago’s WMAQ is no exception, but the NBC-owned station is unhappy about it for a very specific reason.

On Friday, a new 30-second commercial began airing throughout Illinois for Governor Pat Quinn (D) in his re-election campaign against challenger Bruce Rauner (R). The ad uses excerpts from a WMAQ report about Rauner and includes the voice of political editor Carol Marin.

Chicago media reporter Robert Feder writes that the excerpt is based on a joint investigation by WMAQ and the Chicago Sun-Times, reported by Marin, Don Moseley and Dave McKinney, which delved into Rauner’s business practices.  Read more

NRCC Launches Fake Local News Sites to Attack Democratic Candidates

Picture 3

“Central Valley Update” appears to be some kind of local news site–with a strong commitment to covering politics. After all, it has 100 percent political stories, since its one and only post is a news-like piece of campaign material attacking a Democratic candidate for Congress.

National Journal reports the NRCC has created “about two dozen” of the faux news sites, which are promoted with Google search ads:

The NRCC’s single-page sites are designed to appear to be a local news portal, with logos like “North County Update” or “Central Valley Update.” The articles begin in the impartial voice of a political fact-checking site, hoping to lure in readers. “We’ll take a look at her record and let you decide,” starts one. Then they gradually morph into more biting language. At the very bottom, in a box, is the disclaimer that the NRCC paid for the site.

“This is a new and effective way to disseminate information to voters who are interested in learning the truth about these Democratic candidates,” said Andrea Bozek, communications director for the NRCC.

KBJR Responds to Concerns Over Anchor Appearing in Political Ad


Recently, KBJR said some of its viewers became concerned when they saw a portion of the station’s newscast in an ad for Minnesota Senator Al Franken‘s re-election campaign.

David Jensch,station manager of the Duluth, MN, NBC and CBS affiliate, told viewers not to worry. Franken’s campaign used the footage without permission and there’s nothing they can do about it.

“It’s very important that the viewers here in the Northland understand that KBJR and KDLH have no political bias, have no preference with candidates, and would never take a position in a political campaign,” Jensch said Wednesday. “This is an ad that we can’t stop, it’s airing all over the state of Minnesota and we don’t like it, but legally there is nothing we can do about it.”

Jensch said he checked with station lawyers and was told that Franken’s ad does not infringe on copyright laws because it falls under the “fair use” exception.

KXAS Fights Political Ad Featuring ‘Extensive Use of a Copyrighted KXAS Report’

dan branch political adKXAS, the NBC-owned station in Dallas, is disputing the use of its footage in a political ad for Dan Branch, who is running for Attorney General of Texas. The NBC legal department has sent a letter to the campaign requesting to stop the ad, which “features extensive use of a copyrighted KXAS report and includes the voice and likeness KXAS anchor Bianca Castro,” from airing:

In fact, with the exception of two seconds of music at the beginning, the entire audio track of the commercial consists of the KXAS report. This use has been made without permission of KXAS or Ms. Castro, and the manner in which this material is used and the extent of the material taken inaccurately suggests that KXAS and Ms. Castro have consented to its use an agree with the position espoused by the commercial. Aside from the copyright issues, this is use of the voice of Ms. Castro and the KXAS logo exploits her and the journalistic credibility of KXAS.

KXAS objects to any use of its journalists and our copyrighted material that suggests to the public that we or our journalists are taking sides with any individual or organization involved in a political campaign or dispute, and we request that your organization respect that concern. Accordingly, we request that you immediately cease any further dissemination of the commercial consisting almost entirely of the KXAS report.

11 Stations Hit With Political Ad Complaints

Obama_CampaignAdTwo open government advocacy groups have filed complaints with the FCC against 11 stations over allegedly failing to disclose certain information about their political ads, TVNewsCheck reports:

They are WDIV Detroit (Post-Newsweek), KNXV Phoenix (Scripps), WTVJ Miami (NBC), WMUR Boston (Hearst), WFLA Tampa (Media General), WTVT Tampa (Fox), WWJ Detroit (CBS), KMGH Denver (Scripps), WCNC Charlotte, N.C. (Gannett), KMSP Minneapolis (Fox) and WTVD Raleigh-Durham, N.C. (ABC).

The groups — the Campaign Legal Center and the Sunlight Foundation — accused most of the stations of multiple infractions, including failure to identify candidates referred to in the ads, the issue of national importance to which the ad refers and the CEO or board of the advertiser.

“These complaints may lift the curtain on why the National Association of Broadcasters has fought so hard against putting the political files online,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Campaign Legal Center in a prepared statement.

NYT: Political Ad Revenue Makes Swing State Stations More Valuable

The New York TimesBrian Stelter takes a look at how political ad revenue is luring buyers to stations in battleground states. With more consolidation predicted in the local news landscape, higher political revenues and higher ratings make stations more valuable, Stelter reports:

When Allbritton, the media company that owns Politico, put its seven television stations up for sale this spring, analysts quickly singled out one as the most attractive: WJLA, the company’s ABC-affiliated station in Washington, D.C. It is the biggest of the bunch, the best known and, perhaps most important, a magnet for political spending.

WJLA took in $33 million in election-related and issue advocacy advertising last year. Only three stations in the United States earned more for political ads, and two of those were also in Washington. That’s because the stations’ signals reach citizens in a crucial battleground state, Virginia, as well as the political power brokers in the nation’s capital. If Allbritton were to sell WJLA by itself, it could fetch $300 million. Read more

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