Post Election: Traditional Ads To Return To TV

It's been a record year for political spending — an estimated $6 billion. TV ads make up more than half of that amount. But what happens at TV stations when those ads no longer fill the air?

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR business news begins with television the day after tomorrow.

All those political ads on TV and radio, billions of dollars worth, are about to come to an end. Which, if you're a TV station, raises the question of what will take their place?

NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: This year, Political spending will reach an all-time high. The Center for Responsive Politics puts the figure at about six billion dollars. More than half of that has gone into TV ads for president and everything else.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV AD)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Career politicians, they're like pigs at the trough. All they do is throw mud at each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: What is 37-year politician Sherrod Brown hiding with his negative ads?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: A prosecutor who has made a career out of protecting families.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #4: Because of this experience...

KAUFMAN: But come tomorrow the ads stop. And that makes Jim Rose, sales director of the NBC affiliate in Seattle happy - or at least relieved.

JIM ROSE: It is a really tough balancing act between handling those political advertisers which are really important, relative to our base of advertisers who are with us year in and year out.

KAUFMAN: And Rose says those traditional advertisers - selling new cars, beverages, consumer products and fashion - typically don't come back in force until the post-election noise dies down.

ROSE: Many TV stations will take whatever leftover time they have to use it to promote their own stations or whatever causes that they had that they choose to embrace.

KAUFMAN: But the mainstream advertisers won't stay off the air for long. Indeed, they're likely to be back next week. So, instead of political ads, you'll be hearing this...

(SOUNDBITE OF ADVERTISEMENT)

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Don't miss the magic at the JCPenney after Thanksgiving sale. Doors open at 5 A.M. for incredible savings.

KAUFMAN: The holiday shopping season is just around the corner.

Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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