Originally published: May 1, 2012
Last updated: May 1, 2012 - 3:25pm
In the weeks before the April 24 primary, folks in Northeastern Pennsylvania saw and heard a lot on local television stations about the battle between longtime incumbent Democrat Rep. Tim Holden (D) and challenger-turned-primary-winner attorney Matt Cartwright (D). The visibility on the airwaves came through a deluge of paid political ads—not, unfortunately, from actual news reports (which were comparatively scarce and, when offered, not particularly substantive).
According to my recent review of the public inspection files (where broadcasters are required to log, among other things, political ad buys) at six area television stations, candidates Cartwright and Holden and assorted interest groups together spent more than $1.1 million in March and April on 30-second ads in the race for the 17th district, a jagged new area capturing big D cities of Scranton, Wilkes-Barre, and Easton. (Note: These and all figures in this post come from my review of the stations’ files and have not been independently confirmed with the candidates or outside groups.) This translated into more than 3,300 spots. Most of the money and the lion’s share of ads —1,673 spots costing $728,100—ran on WNEP (ABC), the region’s dominant local news source, and its second-feed station, WNEP2.
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