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Metro Area TV Stations Air Ads Worth $20 Million

© Anthony Kelly

© Anthony Kelly

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by CU News Corp
appeared on iNewsNetwork / Denver Business Journal / Denver Post / Daily Camera / Durango Herald  

© by Anthony Kelly/Flickr Creative Commons

Coloradans troubled by a sense that political advertising on TV truly is unremitting this late summer, the broadcast equivalent of a jackhammer breaking up an old sidewalk, may take some comfort in knowing their concerns have merit.

In fact, there’s almost $20 million worth of merit to those concerns. That’s the total spent by 21 groups on an astonishing 18,956 political ads. And that’s only for political spots at the four largest Denver stations, KCNC, KDVR, KMGH and KUSA.



To put it another way, if you sat down at noon Sunday and watched each airing back-to-back, you wouldn’t emerge until six days and 14 hours later, missing everything but Monday Night Football the following week.

The analysis by the students of CU News Corps covers political advertising contracts uploaded by the stations to the Federal Communications Commission as of Sept. 11 for ads purchased to run between July 30 and Nov. 6. It does not include contracts purchased prior to the FCC’s deadline requiring the contracts to be posted online.

Denver is the No. 3 media market for presidential campaign ads this year, according to the Wesleyan Media Project, which examines political advertising nationally. Only Las Vegas and Cleveland have seen more spots between April 25 and Sept. 8, according to the group.

“It’s unbelievably crowded,” said Erika Franklin Fowler, an assistant professor of government at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., who directs the project. “Colorado has a front and center seat for this campaign.”

Even so, as with advertising targeting all the swing states, the spots are aimed at a narrow slice of the electorate, said Kyle Saunders, an associate professor of political science at Colorado State University.

“These ads are aimed at somewhere around 15 percent of the people inside those 10 competitive states who are going to determine the outcome of this election,” Saunders said.

The July 30-Nov.6 numbers for the four Denver stations do not include contracts purchased prior to the FCC’s deadline requiring the contracts to be posted online.

Even so, the numbers are impressive:

  • Twenty-one groups are spending almost $20 million on 18,956 ads. At 30 seconds each, that’s almost 158 hours – at an average price of $1,050 per spot.
  • The largest spender to date is Obama for America at $4.6 million for 5,732 spots. The Obama campaign has purchased advertising through Election Day, with more than 100 spots planned on each station for most weeks.
  • The Romney campaign has spent more than $1.4 million for 1,596 spots. Thus far, the campaign only has slots purchased through Sept. 18.
  • Super PACs account for about $4.5 million of the ad buys with 3,425 spots. Priorities USA, the super PAC supporting Obama, leads the way with $1.9 million spent, followed by the Karl Rove-led conservative PAC, American Crossroads at $1.2 million.
  • The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has reserved $2.1 million in ad buys while the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee has spent almost $2 million on buys. These ads are aimed at Colorado U.S. House races. The GOP ads ran mostly in August, while the Democratic ads are slated to begin later this month and run through Election Day, according to the analysis.
  • In the 7th Congressional District, incumbent Democrat Rep. Ed Perlmutter has scheduled almost $1.4 million worth of advertising, while Joe Coors, his Republican challenger, has booked $989,000 in ads. Both candidates have purchased ad time through the November election. Coors reserved additional ad time through Election Day before the stations were required to file political ad files with the FCC.
  • In the 6th Congressional District, incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Coffman has contracted for $660,315 in ads, while Democratic challenger Joe Miklosi has contracted for $723,725.


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Explanatory multimedia reporting from CU Boulder journalism students
Metro Area TV Stations Air Ads Worth $20 Million