Obama Seeks Live TV Commercial on Caucus Eve

Obama seeks live TV spot in Iowa on eve of caucus.


Dec. 28, 2007 — -- Not to be outdone by Senator Hillary Clinton, ABC News has learned that Senator Barack Obama's campaign is buying advertising time on the night before the caucuses for a political commercial, to air statewide.

The Obama campaign made the request Friday morning.

On Thursday, Clinton's campaign announced that she would buy a two minute block of time on every 6pm newscast in the state.

Obama's camp countered by requesting either a two or five minute window of time during the stations' local newscasts, during the period between local news and primetime programming, or during primetime.

And they tried to one-up Clinton -- not only asking for more time, but asking if the Senator could make his pitch live via satellite.

But finding five minutes of primetime television real estate for one presidential candidate on the night before Iowa votes is tricky, and potentially legally dicey, for local stations.

And finding a way to be live simultaneously on multiple stations with multiple programming schedules proved too difficult.

"Five minutes was impossible," said Ray Cole, General Manager of the Des Moines ABC station, WOI. "There's no way we can provide for a five minute request in any of those timeframes."

"After a lot of back and forth this morning, it appears that Obama is buying two minute spots on January 2nd in much the same way that Clinton did yesterday," Cole said. "They have matched Clinton in this last-minute poker game, but they weren't able to trump them in the way they might have liked."

ABC News' Cedar Rapids, Iowa station KCRG also confirmed that Obama would have a two minute window in their 6 o'clock local news.

"That's a standard unit," said KCRG National Sales Manager Steve Lake.

Granting Obama five minutes would likely have drawn protests from other presidential candidates.

"The great fear is that everybody else will want the same thing and particularly candidates who have not spent as much or been on the air as long as Obama," Lake said.

As for the live request, it proved too unwieldy.

"Every station's local news is formatted and timed differently. To sync up multiple stations for broadcast of a live political commercial, the challenge is daunting at best," Cole said.

And guess who else came calling on Friday? Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., and Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del.

The Edwards campaign is buying ninety second spots on the night of January 2nd. Cedar Rapids ABC viewers will see Edwards during the 5pm newscast.

Joe Biden will have a full minute in the 6 o'clock news that night in Cedar Rapids.

All total? If you watch the 6pm news on KCRG next Wednesday -- 9.5 minutes of the half hour news broadcast will be devoted to political advertisements. That's every single available ad space.

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