ABC out of Obama half-hour campaign ad buy
Posted October 28, 2008 7:24 p.m. EDT
Updated October 29, 2008 4:48 p.m. EDT
LOS ANGELES — A half-hour Barack Obama campaign ad will blanket the major broadcast networks Wednesday night – except for ABC.
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.