ABC out of Obama half-hour campaign ad buy

Posted October 28, 2008
Updated October 29, 2008

— A half-hour Barack Obama campaign ad will blanket the major broadcast networks Wednesday night – except for ABC.

Click for complete WRAL-TV primetime lineup.

Attempting to protect its struggling Wednesday lineup, ABC tried to reach an agreement with the Obama campaign to air the commercial on a different night, according to people familiar with the discussions who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

ABC had a change of heart, but by the time it decided to make the 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday slot available for the Democratic presidential candidate's spot, his campaign had already finalized the ad buy, the people said. ABC will air an episode of the hourlong "Pushing Daisies" at that time as scheduled.

The Obama campaign bought time on CBS, NBC and Fox for $1 million per network. In Fox's case, the ad will precede the resumption of rain-suspended Game 5 of the World Series in Philadelphia.

Fox decided to pre-empt its World Series pre-game show for the Obama spot and will start its baseball coverage after the commercial's 8:30 p.m. conclusion.

The 30-minute spot, which was announced in early October, will air six days before the election between Obama and Republican candidate John McCain. It is also scheduled to run on Univision, BET, MSNBC and TV One.

Described by the Obama campaign as a "program," the half-hour will present "the specifics of Obama's plans to turn the economy around and get the country back on track," according to a statement from campaign spokesman Nick Shapiro.

Short political spots are the traditional way for politicians to communicate with voters. But Obama's campaign has deep pockets for the costly ad buy that allows him to make a closing argument nationwide: his fundraising has topped $600 million.

ABC hasn't been left out of the Obama campaign budget. From Oct. 8-24, the campaign purchased about $1.8 million worth of commercial time on the network's schedule, including prime-time and morning spots, according to ABC.

"Pushing Daisies" is among many shows trying to rebound from the Hollywood writers strike that disrupted the 2007-08 TV season. ABC's Wednesday night lineup, which also includes "Private Practice" and "Dirty Sexy Money," has struggled to capture viewers.



A note from John Harris, WRAL-TV director of programming: The Obama message tonight is a paid political commercial. Stations and, by extension, their affiliated networks, are legally required to provide equal opportunities to candidates. Once a station or network sells time to a candidate, it must provide equal opportunity to all opposing candidates for the same office. CBS offered a half-hour time period to the McCain campaign, but they chose not to buy the time.


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  • southern by choice Oct 29, 2008

    It's sad to think in this day and age that some people (Obama) think that our votes can be bought. But then again some can. Not mine. He needs to practice what he preaches (ha,ha) share the wealth.

  • NC Forester Oct 29, 2008

    Way to go ABC! WRAL should have done the same.

  • CaniacDevil Oct 29, 2008

    If he's so concerned about spreading the wealth -- why not give some of "his" money to those in need instead of paying $1 million per network to buy the election? I wouldn't vote this man in as dog catcher!

  • mrduffin Oct 29, 2008

    Obama is telling lies to get elected. There is no way he can give away all the money he is promising and not raise taxes. He has sold his soul to the devil to get elected so he will stop at nothing. He is an evil man who will not get another dime of my money if he is elected.

  • What_I_Think Oct 29, 2008

    I don't get it. I read these blogs regularly, and always see people complaining that Obama isn't specific enough about what he's going to do. Now he's giving people an opportunity to hear his plans and you're still complaining?

  • letourkidspay4it Oct 29, 2008

    mmania -"At this time in the election, this is way over the top and I would say the same if McCain were doing this too. Quite frankly I'm sick to death of all politicans right now."

    I'm sick of this too. Politics is more about campaigning than actual work. However, when I hear middle class people sincerely believing those "I'm Joe the Plumber" McCain ads, I say 'set them straight Obama!' Most people will get a bigger tax cut under Obama, and only those with ADJUSTED gross incomes > ~$250K will be taxed more. It's sadly ironic that those people who can't grasp this are almost certain to benefit more from Obama. Me, I trust my portfolio long-term more under Obama than McCain. Seriously, what should I invest in if McCain wins? Defense? past-peak-global oil? Health/pharmaceutical companies -yeah that one actually might be a good one. China might be another...

  • mmania Oct 29, 2008


    Don't assume you know who everyone is going to vote for.

    At this time in the election, this is way over the top and I would say the same if McCain were doing this too. Quite frankly I'm sick to death of all politicans right now.

  • mmania Oct 29, 2008


    My father always said "the biggest fool you'll ever meet is an educated fool". Just because you have a FRAMED DEGREE on the wall doesn't necessarily mean you're smart. Don't talk down to people it's unbecoming, and no one really cares that you make a lot of money. Is that suppose to make you superior?

  • wp Oct 29, 2008

    My shows will now be pushed back by 30 minutes? For nothing. And I thought having baseball on Fox was bad. Guess tonight, it won't be.

  • liesl Oct 29, 2008

    Actually thewayitis I make very good money for what I do...I've paid a great deal of taxes...and I expect to pay them...please do not assume I'm an uneducated teenage parent. I have a degree that's hanging in a well mounted frame...I paid for my education...I believe in helping others who are less fortunate than me...I believe in letting a government govern...I do not however, believe that I or my employee be punished by paying higher health premiums, because of small business owners not wanting to pay and provide their employees with health coverage...I'll keep my other comments to myself...