The Alliance for Better Campaigns has released a study saying that broadcasters "gouged" candidates by charging on average 65% more for ad time than the lowest unit rate.
Broadcasters are required to charge candidates their lowest unit rates, but many candidates buy the more expensive non-preemptible spots, the lowest rate for which is higher than for preemptible spots. The report, which says the cost of ad time is five times that of 1980, suggested that stations "steered" candidates toward the higher, nonpreemptible, rate card, then raised prices as inventory became scarce.
"It's not happening," reponded NAB spokesman Dennis Wharton to the charge of gouging. "There is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that candidates are being abused by local broadcasers. Stations strictly adhere to FCC rules. And, if there were some sort of wholesale abuse going on, why have there been no claims filed at the FCC for at least five years?"
- John Eggerton