[opendtv] Re: Quid Pro Quo

  • From: Craig Birkmaier <craig@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2013 12:23:00 -0400

On Jul 9, 2013, at 4:35 PM, "Manfredi, Albert E" <albert.e.manfredi@xxxxxxxxxx> 

> I don't mind political ads during an election season, at all. As long as they 
> don't increase the time devoted to ads, I'd much rather hear what some 
> politician is promising, or what image s/he is trying to portray, than to see 
> ads about pampers.
> And if these ads are paid by campaign contributions, and not by the taxpayer, 
> all the better.
> Craig might be interested to see that when push came to shove, it was the ads 
> on the main broadcast channels that are considered the most useful ones. Not 
> the ones on the obscure cable channels.

I hardly know where to start…

First, I'd rather not watch ads at all; most political ads tell us nothing 
about a candidate, but rather try to attack the opponents record. 

And promises from politicians? They tell each audience what they want to hear; 
you may hear one story in one market, and a completely different story in 
another. Not that it matters, as "what you see" and "what you get," are often 
180 degrees out of phase, to coin a TV engineering term.

A portion of the Presidential campaign is paid with tax dollars, although you 
can choose not to check off that box on your tax return. Unfortunately, 
campaign contributions are the problem. Being a politician, especially for 
state and national offices, is primarily about fund raising.

The attorney who represents the Florida Brewers Guild in Tallahassee has told 
us on many occasions that it now takes about half a million dollars to get any 
legislation passed in Florida. We failed to pass a very simple bill making 64 
oz growlers legal in Florida, as they are in most other states; the Chairman of 
a key House committee simply sat on the bill and would not let it come to the 
committee for consideration. In Florida virtually ALL State representatives and 
Senators receive significant campaign contributions from the Distributors of 
alcoholic beverages; most of the laws pertaining to alcoholic beverages in 
Florida (and almost all other states), define the three tier distribution 
system and protect the rights of the distributors. 

Such is the nature of government today. In Washington it is even worse; our 
President, who cannot run for re-election, still spends a huge amount of time 
raising money. It IS what they do.

Putting corruption aside for the moment, the story that started this thread 
details the impact of political spending on the broadcast industry. Ironically, 
while stations once were valued largely on market size and ratings, we now see 
that stations in battleground markets are being sold at significant premiums.

The major attraction of local - market based - broadcasting to politicians is 
two fold:

1. Representatives can buy ads on stations that cover their districts, and 
Statewide and nation races can focus ad spending on key demographics. 

2. Between elections, politicians benefit from the coverage they receive on the 
stations in the districts they represent, and the penchant for news coverage to 
focus on political issues.

This is the quid pro quo I referred to in the title of this thread.

Now add to this the fact that campaign spending is increasing at an alarming 
rate, and you begin to see how important this has become to the financial 
foundation of broadcasting. Sometime in the early '90s we surpassed the billion 
dollar spending level for a national election cycle. In 2008 the politicians 
spent more than $5.5 billion. In 2010 - a non presidential cycle it topped 
$%2.5 billion. In 2012 it reach more than $6 billion. 

Solid evidence that the U.S. now has the best government money can buy. 

As for Bert's comments about cable versus broadcast spending, he is not in a 
good position to comment. I rarely watch broadcast TV, but I was still 
inundated with political ads on cable channels. 

Here are a few interesting tidbits from a Reuter's analysis of where the obey 
was spent last year:


Analysis: Obama's ad team used cable TV to outplay Romney
By Marcus Stern and Tim McLaughlin
Sat Jan 5, 2013 8:02am EST

(Reuters) - As political experts assess Republican Mitt Romney's failed U.S. 
presidential bid, an analysis of how his campaign and President Barack Obama's 
winning team used cable TV to target ads at specific groups of voters may offer 
some valuable tips for the future.

During the final weeks before the November 6 election, with polls showing a 
tight race, Obama's campaign exploited cable TV's diverse lineup to target 
women on channels such as Food Network and Lifetime and men on networks such as 

The Obama team used the fragmentation of cable TV's audience to its fullest 
advantage to target tailored messages to voters in battleground states.

Meanwhile, Romney's campaign relied on a more traditional mass saturation of 
broadcast TV. The Romney camp was entirely dark on cable TV for two of the 
campaign's last seven days.



Cable television political advertising jumped from $136 million in 2006 to $650 
million in 2012, although broadcast TV still garnered 80 percent of the 
campaign advertising spending last year.

Even with major broadcast networks and their affiliates, the Obama campaign 
appeared to out-perform the Romney camp.

A campaign spending review shows the Obama camp frequently spent far less than 
Romney for ads aired by the same stations during the same shows.

For example, a review of TV station filings with the Federal Communications 
Commission showed Romney, on the Sunday before Election Day, paid $1,100 for an 
ad aired during CBS's "Face the Nation" program on WRAL in Raleigh, North 
Carolina. Obama paid $200 for a comparable ad on the same station during the 
same program.

Part of the reason for the Obama campaign's pricing advantage is that the 
president faced no Democratic primary challenge and was able to buy autumn TV 
time months in advance when the slots - like airline tickets - were discounted. 
Romney faced a tough battle for the Republican nomination.



In the past, political advertisers relied on the major networks rather than 
cable TV in a quest to reach the most television viewers.

But cable TV's increasing popularity has brought dramatic fragmentation to 
television viewership. In many markets, cable offers a hundred or more 
channels, giving advertisers a chance to target specific demographics.

For instance, the Obama campaign identified zip codes surrounding Ohio 
tire-manufacturing plants and purchased cable ads touting Obama's efforts to 
block tire imports from China.

Obama ran 600,000 cable ads to the Romney's 300,000 around the nation during 
the campaign, said NCC's Kay. Obama's cable TV push started in April. Romney's 
began in September.

Sadly, we have the best government special interests can buy, and broadcasters 
are critical to the success of the political class.


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