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Air Space

As Obama rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where does he go? It’s primetime network television! Barack Obama has purchased a half hour of prime time programming on Oct 29th at 8pm, on CBS and NBC. He is the first candidate since–Ross Perot in 1992–to purchase a half-hour of network air time [ap.google.com] for campaign advertising. As a result of heightened interest in this year’s election, and the youth of Obama’s base, networks predict that Obama’s infomercial will draw larger audiences than other primetime programming.

This is great news for viewers looking to shake-up their line-up of reality Wednesday night reality shows, but terrible news for other networks whose ratings are likely to suffer from Obama’s “special.” Among the shows to suffer: CW’s “American’s Next Top Model,” ABC’s “Pushing Daisies,” and even basketball fans will have to choose between ballers. Fox’s broadcast of the Pacers/Pistons game is at the same time as the Obamamercial.

Obama’s $500,000 purchase of prime air space is only possible because of the massive amount of funds he’s been able to raise, especially as Election Day approaches. Self-financed Ross Perot was the last to do this, but buying primetime television space is not a new strategy. Back in the 1960s and 1970s it was more commonplace for candidates to air long-form campaign ads, something made possible by the low rates of the day.

So far McCain has not announced any such plan, although he continues to release more 30-second ads as the month progresses.

–Jamie Wong