Political ad spending surges 31%


NEW YORK -- The battle for the House and Senate is proving a windfall for local TV stations, with Nielsen Monitor-Plus saying Thursday that political ad spots are up 31% compared with 2002.

There were 942,900 campaign ads on local TV between Aug. 1-Oct. 15, Nielsen Monitor-Plus said. That is up 31% compared with the same period in 2002. Strong activity was reported on local TV in Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston and Providence, R.I., among other places where the campaigns are particularly contested.

The gubernatorial race in California, for instance, has been dwarfed in terms of ad-buying by governor races in Florida, Michigan, Illinois and even New York, where Democrat Eliot Spitzer is expected to win handily. Candidate Charlie Crist in Florida bought the most ads of any candidate, 21,214 local TV units between Aug. 1-Oct. 15; second place went to Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick Devos, who bought 20,093. Third place was a virtual tie between Illinois gubernatorial candidate Rod Blagojevich and Spitzer, who each bought more than 11,000 spots. The Senate candidate with the most spots during the period was Tennessee's GOP candidate Bob Corker, who placed 12,007 ads.

In California, incumbent Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger placed 4,895 TV units compared with challenger Phil Angelides' 2,490, Nielsen Monitor-Plus said.

Most campaign advertising is on local TV. Nielsen Monitor-Plus said the biggest change compared with 2002 is that the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee are the biggest spenders and doubled their ad spend. The RNC placed 56,000 spots in 86 TV markets, compared with 29,338 in 2002. The DNC has placed 54,000 spots during the 11-week period, up from the 19,197 four years ago.

The top markets are: Tampa-St. Petersburg, 19,730 units; Los Angeles, 17,257; San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, 15,768; Boston, 15,556; Providence-New Bedford, 15,217; Columbus, Ohio, 14,681; West Palm Beach, Fla., 14,534; Phoenix, 14,172; Washington, 14,028; and Green Bay-Appleton, Wis., 14,012.

Nielsen Monitor-Plus is a unit of Nielsen Media Research, which is owned by VNU Group. VNU Group also owns The Hollywood Reporter.