Monday, January 26, 2004
A media industry trade publication, MediaPost, predicts here that 2004 will be a record breaking year for political ads, expecting them to top $1.3 billion. In fact, political ads are the main reason that the entire industry expects any ad growth this year. This brings several things to mind:
1) For the most part, there is a fixed amount of TV advertising available. As some candidates raise more money, they are able to afford greater prices which pushes the price up both for other candidates and for your local car dealer. Current FCC regulations require stations to charge candidates the lowest price that they offer, but this is only for what's called "pre-emptible time." To avoid getting bumped by a higher paying competitor, candidates who can afford to pay top dollar. They're doing so literally pre-empts the speech of other, lesser funded candidates.
2) TV ad spending continues to go up and up. Does anyone think that we actually have better campaigns as a result?
3) It would seem to be in TV stations financial interests to provide less news coverage of candidates (which costs them money) and instead have candidates rely on paid ads in order to communicate with voters. This would also be in the interests of candidates, or at least those backed by wealthy donors. This way, they can "control" their message, rather than having the media "filter" it to viewers. But, is this in the voters interest? When you buy a car, would you rather watch a TV ad, or read a "filtered" review of the car in Consumer Reports or Car & Driver? When you vote for a candidate, do you trust what they say about themselves (or their opponents), or what a third party media outlet says (assuming you know what the media outlet's biases are?)