Political campaigns generate millions of dollars, a large portion of that money dedicated towards advertising for a party or attacking an opponent.
Brian Schumacher, General Sales Manager at WXOW/WQOW for ABC La Crosse and Eau Claire TV market, states approximately $2.4 million dollars was made during this campaign season.
Both Democrats and Republicans have rights to the lowest rates because of the FCC rules and regulations. The FCC also requires any messages approved by candidates cannot be denied airtime by a news station for any reason. Any messages without consent of the candidate may indeed by denied airtime by the station.
3rd party candidates do not receive the same benefits as the two dominate parties and may be charged higher prices for airtime. Schumacher says there are four separate classes of time. The first is a fixed time and non-pre-emptible, second pre-emptible with a 48-hour notice, third pre-emptible with a 24 hour notice, and lastly the fourth class immediately pre-emptible without notice. Both Republican and Democrat candidates are guaranteed the lowest rates within each class, but independent and 3rd party candidates can and have been charged increased rates.
Rates given by Schumacher, based on :30 second time slots in prime time and in the 4th quarter for 2012, range from $100-$2,500 on ABC and $10-$75 on CW.
Schumacher gave a rough estimate that Democratic candidates outspend Republicans at his station $400,000 to $300,000 with issue groups leading for Republicans at 60% and Democrats at 40%.
Schumacher stated that WXOW had nine candidate campaigns: Obama, Romeny, Kind, Feehan, Duffy, Krietlow, Thompson, Baldwin, and Vandermeer. There were 17 separate issue groups as well.