Political TV Ad Rates Complicate Election Season

Controversial new FCC rule requires TV stations to post political ad rates

Along with the headache of making sure TV ads that get bumped by politicals are quickly rescheduled, advertising agencies also will have to cope with the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial new rule requiring TV stations to post online the rates charged for each political ad.

“Rates for the political season could show up in databases and on buyers’ desktops, and other buys would be measured by this,” said John Shelton, the CEO of Strata, a provider of software-based buying tools. “This is more likely to impact the business outside politics rather than the business inside politics.”

Broadcasters warned that having ad-rate data readily available online would put stations at a marked disadvantage as they compete with other local media outlets. It was a concern FCC commissioner Mignon Clyburn, a former newspaper publisher, acknowledged even as she voted for the rule.

The move could leave both buyer and seller with a lot to explain during the hectic advertising season. The concern is that advertisers would demand the same ad rate as others without regard to the specific factors that drove their campaign. “I don’t want this to create more questions about local markets in our clients’ minds that might discourage them not to buy local,” said Maribeth Papuga, an evp and director of local investment for MediaVest.

However, Tony Sweeney, svp, media director at Philadelphia-based LevLane, said there may be an upside in terms of transparency, noting “that level of detail doesn’t typically get discussed.”

As reported by AdWeek