Local TV airwaves in top 10 nationwide for political ads

10:25 AM, Oct 17, 2012   |    comments
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Sacramento television viewers probably already know they're being bombarded with political ads as election season heads into its final three weeks, but a new survey shows the region is among the top ten in America this campaign season in the sheer bulk of ads on the airwaves.

The nonpartisan Sunlight Foundation, a Washington, D.C. based group that advocates for more transparency in politics and government, reported Wednesday that their survey of ad information from TV stations puts Sacramento ninth in the nation in the number of political ads on the airwaves during this election cycle.

And it's only intensifying.  In the past week, says the group, Sacramento's blitz has put the region even higher -- at number six.

The reason is pretty simple when you look at the group's data on the Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto TV market, ranked 20th in size in the country: it covers a region that also features four heated congressional races.

Those races are 7th congressional district race between incumbent Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, and Democrat Ami Bera; the 3rd congressional district race between incumbent Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, and Republican Kim Vann; the 10th congressional district race between incumbent Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Turlock, and Democrat Jose Hernandez; and the 9th congressional district race between incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and Republican Ricky Gill.

Those four races, plus several hotly contested statewide ballot measures and some races for the state Legislature, have produced hundreds of political ad airings each day.

The Sunlight Foundation says that it gets much of its data from the files that TV stations, like KXTV News10, are required to make available for public review by the Federal Communications Commission.  In August, the FCC won a court ruling to require stations -- beginning in the nation's largest TV markets -- to post documents online.

(News10's online FCC filing for political advertisers is here.)

The nonpartisan group also says that it asks volunteers to review each station's hard copy public file, available for review on site, for additional information regarding political groups paying for ads.

The TV ads targeting the Sacramento region's hot congressional races have come, in large part, from outside groups -- either the national political committees or from political action committees (PACs) with a national focus for, or against, one of the two major political parties.

What's especially fascinating about the Sunlight Foundation's political ad tracking is that Sacramento is not only the lone California TV market on the top ten list... it's also the only TV market in the top ten this season that's not in one of the presidential battleground states.

The other markets in the group's top ten, in order, for the election cycle: Las Vegas, Norfolk, VA, Orlando, West Palm Beach, FL, Pittsburgh, Denver, Tampa, Cleveland, and Cincinnati.


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