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Campaigns spend $4.6M on Valley TV

Published: Sun, July 15, 2012 @ 12:09 a.m.

Ad buys roll in heavier, earlier

By David Skolnick



The election isn’t until Nov. 6, but for those watching the Mahoning Valley’s network television affiliates, it might seem as if it’s just a few days away.

Political campaigns and organizations are spending about $4.6 million to air about 6,500 political commercials on local stations. Almost 75 percent of the local political ad money is going to two stations: $1.84 million at 21 WFMJ-TV, the local NBC affiliate, and $1.7 million at WKBN, the local CBS affiliate.

Political campaigns and organizations are paying about $700,000 to WYTV, the local ABC affiliate, about $330,000 to WYFX, the local Fox affiliate. WBCB, the local CW affiliate, has received $8,095, and MyYTV, a broadcast syndication station and Fox sister company, has received $7,610.

Local TV affiliate officials say this year’s political ad buys are well ahead of the 2008 election year when Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican John McCain in the general election.

“My expectation is [the] consistent volume that we’ve seen the past two months [will continue] until mid-August, September, [when] volume will pick up dramatically as the election nears,” said Jack Grdic, general manager of WFMJ and WBCB. “Both party conventions and any perceived momentum will determine the pacing as well.”

WFMJ made about $4.6 million from political commercials in 2008 and $3.6 million in 2004, he said.

WKBN, WYTV and WYFX combined made about $6 million from political ads in 2008 and about that amount in 2004, said Kathy Sarna, a sales representative who handles political ads for the affiliates. The three stations have made almost half of that amount already.

This election season is “much busier than 2008,” she said. “2008 didn’t start until September.”

Sarna added that she expects “this to continue until the election.”

At the top of the list, by far, in money spent on the local network TV affiliates is President Barack Obama’s campaign. The campaign has already spent $1,745,155 for commercials through July 30, and is expected to make several more air-time buys.

During the president’s July 6 speech at Poland’s Dobbins Elementary School, Obama twice talked about negative TV ads.

“You guys are getting bombarded with all kinds of nonsense on TV,” he said.

The six leading special-interest groups/“super” political action committees money paid to local networks for commercials have spent a combined $1,918,660 on ads critical of Obama and fellow Democrat, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, according to information provided to The Vindicator by the local affiliates.

The six are: Crossroads GPS, $1,094,600; Restore Our Future, $228,080; Americans for Prosperity, $214,905; Let Freedom Ring, $138,935; the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, $129,760; and American Commitment, $112,380.

Special-interest groups and super PACs can spend and raise unlimited amounts of money — unlike candidate campaigns, which have limits on how much they can raise from individuals and organizations — as long as they don’t coordinate their efforts with a campaign. They also don’t have to disclose their donors.

“I’m amazed that for a small place with a population decline that we are seeing so much money being spent” on network TV affiliates, said Paul Sracic, chairman of Youngstown State University’s political science department.

While campaigns also use other media options, network affiliates are still important to politics, he said.

But is it worth the expense to advertise for the November election this early?

“A lot of it is money being wasted,” Sracic said. “But it shows Ohio is the center of the universe. We’ll have nearly four more months of negative ads.”

The presidential campaigns “probably know it’s way too early to spend money” on TV, Sracic said. But they are doing it, in part, to excite their core supporters, who are then willing to work hard for the campaigns, he said.

Ohio is home to one the nation’s most expensive U.S. Senate races with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, being challenged by state Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican.

Special-interest groups have spent about $10.6 million against Brown statewide, according to his campaign and the Ohio Democratic Party. That is the most money spent against any senator in the country, the campaign and party say.

But the Valley has seen little of it.

Neither campaign has spent any money on Valley TV affiliates.

The Brown campaign identified eight groups that are spending money against the incumbent. Only four have been on Valley network affiliates. Three of them have spent about $300,000 on local affiliates. The fourth, Crossroads GPS, has spent $1,094,600, but have commercials critical of Brown and Obama so it isn’t known how much that group has spent specifically on the Senate race.

Special-interest groups are “Mandel’s only lifeline,” and are airing “false ads to boost [Mandel’s] campaign since they know he will do their bidding in Washington,” said Sadie Weiner, a Brown campaign spokeswoman.

PolitiFact Ohio and FactCheck, two organizations that examine TV ads and political speeches for accuracy, have determined that claims in a number of anti-Brown commercials are false.

When asked about outside spending, Travis Considine, Mandel’s campaign communications director, said, “Whether Ohio voters learn about 38-year politician Sherrod Brown’s failed record from our campaign or elsewhere, they have a right to know what Sherrod Brown is hiding from.”

The 6th Congressional District race between U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, the Republican incumbent, and Democrat Charlie Wilson, who lost his seat in 2010, is one of the most competitive House races in the state. The district includes all of Columbiana County and a portion of southern Mahoning County.

Johnson’s campaign has spent $9,390 locally while Wilson has spent nothing. However, Wilson has reserved $155,110 worth of commercials to air between Sept. 18 and Nov. 5.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which supports Wilson, has a $328,410 reserve for commercials to air between Oct. 9 and Nov. 6, Election Day, for this race. The National Republican Congressional Committee, which supports Johnson, has a $384,000 reserve for commercials to run between Sept. 7 and Oct. 18.

Those reserve times can be increased or reduced.


1jimcantores(4 comments)posted 4 years ago

I'd much rather have us put up with a few more months of political ads and be RELEVANT than have no ads and live in an area that the elected officials didn't care about; otherwise, we'll never get anything we need around here. Some strategists obviously believe (which Bertrum has been writing for months) that our region plays an important role in winning (or losing) a federal election.

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2stewie(109 comments)posted 4 years ago

Just makes me support Brown and Wilson all the more ! lmao!

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3redeye1(5678 comments)posted 4 years ago

Stewie Go ahead vote for Brown and Wilson , then in a few years when you can't afford electricity. You can thank Brown. Then when free-spending Wilson gets elected and gives the country away Don't B!5ch ! I will vote for anyone else but those two clowns.

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4thinkthentalk(310 comments)posted 4 years ago

This means nothing to some idiots:

PolitiFact Ohio and FactCheck, two organizations that examine TV ads and political speeches for accuracy, have determined that claims in a number of anti-Brown commercials are false.

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5redeye1(5678 comments)posted 4 years ago

All I can say is WHAT A WASTE OF GOOD MONEY!!!!!!!!!!

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6thinkthentalk(310 comments)posted 4 years ago

$1,918,660 on ads critical of Obama and fellow Democrat, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown,

The shame of it all is that the entities that Karl Rove represents with this money, the entitled 1%, expect multiple times this abount in return, like tax cuts, special favors...

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7300(573 comments)posted 4 years ago

Redeye, we've already been over this. You don't reside in the 6th. You're correct in that you won't be voting for Wilson, but that's only because you can't vote in his district.

Seriously, is there something the matter with you that you don't even know in which district you reside? You've been told. There's no excuse for this stupidity.

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8redeye1(5678 comments)posted 4 years ago

300 I made a mistake, I should have said you shouldn't vote for Wilson or Brown. But once again you have to prove that you are trully arrogant D party A$$hole. One who will vote for these two idiots. I will BE Votingf against your friend Little TIMMY RYAN. I can also vote against Sherrod Brown, so I will do that too!

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9jojuggie(1728 comments)posted 4 years ago

Hey Flick, Bush inherited a recession from Clinton. Then 911 occured, but still the first 6 years, of the Bush Adm, were pretty good financially. Then all H--- broke loose.
On Jan 3, 2007, the last 2 years of the Bush Adm., Pelosi took over the House, & Reid took over the Senate, & from there we went downhill, & we are still going downhill.
Also, on Jan. 3, 2007, Barney Frank took over The House Financial Services Committee, & Dodd took over the Senate Banking Committee. Need I say more?

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10jojuggie(1728 comments)posted 4 years ago

Faux news is #1 in virtually every segment on cable. Speaking of boobs, who is that boob on msnbc at 9 Eastern?
I never mentioned The Dodd-Frank Act. I mentioned the 2 jerks , 1 of whom is gone, and the other, who just married his boy friend, whom will be gone soon that were responsible for the act.
Now, the 103rd Congress was all Demo. & accomplished nothing. The 104th Congress was all Repub. The 1st time since 1950. The 105th Congress was all Repub. Look it up. All of the above under Clinton, Starting with the 104th Congress, things in the US really picked up.
Evidently you missed my message about Pelosi & Reid. That's when all H--- broke loose & continues today.

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11jojuggie(1728 comments)posted 4 years ago

Hey FLHT, the 106 Congress was Repub also. The 104 -105-&-106 Congresses were all Repub. This coupled with a moderate Clinton was the reason that all of the good things happened during that Adm..
By the way, I am an Indeprndent. I have never, in all of my years, voted a straight ticket.
When all of the good things started happening during the Gingrich years, I voted for Clinton in his 2nd term, but this Socialist, in the Whitehouse must GO!

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12redeye1(5678 comments)posted 4 years ago

Flick you are just like BO, I never said anything about the airport. As far i'm concerned they can close it right now! One other thing I am an independent voter, not a Liberal a##hole who like you , who is blinded by this president. What has he really done for this country? Let see he raised used cars prices by destroying decent used cars (cash for clunkers program)to help his union buddies out hoping people would buy NEW cars.. He doubled gas prices, He wants to close electrical plants and coal mines. That will be putting alot of people out of work. He has made so many new regulations on small businesses that they don't where to start.; But its fools like you who probably feed off the Gov't that will try to keep him office.. Maybe you should try to work fo once.

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13saddad(655 comments)posted 4 years ago

Redeye1 doesnt need to be told anything. He knows it all cause he watches Fox. I suppose that is why he's always in an angry frenzied state of ignorance.

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