Media Companies Benefit From Political Ads Binge

Media companies are counting themselves among the winners in the 2012 election. SuperPAC spending on political ads will push the total amount spent past 2008 totals. The biggest beneficiaries are the usual suspects: Comcast, Disney, NewsCorp and CBS, but also locally owned TV and radio stations — especially those in swing states like Ohio and Florida.

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And a lot of voters, especially in swing states, might be bullish on the end of all those political ads. Media companies are going to miss the revenue however. They've made a mint from a record-breaking advertising binge. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: Earlier this year, advertising experts Borrell Associates estimated that this campaign season would usher in nearly $10 billion worth of political ads -breaking yet another spending record.

An increasing amount of that money is spent on digital and social media. But still the bulk of that massive sum goes to local TV stations, and more specifically, to certain markets in battleground states such as Ohio, Florida, and Virginia.

Kenneth Wheaton is managing editor of Ad Age.

KENNETH WHEATON: So all of this money is trying to be funneled into really a handful of markets in a handful of states.

NOGUCHI: Although, that's a boon for local network affiliates and local cable channels, the super saturation also creates its own set of issues.

WHEATON: You know, these guys are scrambling to, you know, make time for the candidates, also make time for the superPACs and other groups, and keep their typical advertisers, who keep them in business for the rest of the year, happy.

NOGUCHI: TV stations cannot push up their ad prices for the candidates themselves. But Wheaton says to manage the crush of airtime demand, TV stations can and do charge the PACs and other private groups what the market will bear.

Yuki Noguchi NPR News, Washington.

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