BRADENTON, Fla — It’s that time again! The political season, and if you’ve been following it at all, it looks to be one of the most contentious in recent memory with national congressional seats up for grabs along with numerous state and local races. Despite the apparent fact that there seems to be a kind of “nastiness” to the current campaigning, this could prove to be a sales bonanza for news/talk radio stations.
But, if you haven’t given it much thought for awhile, there are some strict FCC rules that must be followed when it comes to political ads. Whether it’s for state, local, or federal seats, legally qualified candidates are entitled to the lowest unit rate during the 45 days before a primary and 60 days before the general election. This rule applies only to candidates and their authorized campaign committees.
If it’s a political action committee or some other kind of citizens group, they are not entitled to any special treatment. And, of course, all political ads must include a “paid for” or “sponsored by” statement.
An important wrinkle to all of this is separate online advertising. In today’s hi-tech world almost all radio stations have an online presence where their programming is streamed. However, separate political ads on a website are not governed by any FCC rules, although the Commission currently is exploring this matter. So there is nothing to deny a station charging an additional fee for an online audio feed if it’s a separate commercial. Or even offering it as a no-charge bonus in order to get the order.
Because of the unusual and offbeat nature of today’s scene, numerous people with little or no political experience beyond participating in on-street demonstrations and rallies have jumped into the political arena as possible candidates for public office. And many of them approach their hometown news/talk station wishing to be guests on one of the local shows.
This is fertile ground for local sales folks to suggest ad campaigns. Oh yes, they might make good guests but designing an ad campaign might not be a poor idea. In these cases solid cooperation is vital between the program department and the sales department should a program host or producer be approached for a guest spot, or the host seeks a candidate as a guest.
A number of sales folks have reported to me that they are having a pretty good year related to the improving national economy. So, without trying to seem too cynical, here’s an opportunity to make it a great sales year.
Al Herskovitz is president of H&H Communications and a TALKERS marketing consultant. He can be emailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.