Obama gets blue-light special rate for primetime TV address

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Sarah Palin will probably still beat his ratings when she appears on Saturday Night Live in two weeks, but Barack Obama is getting a pretty good deal.

The first presidential candidate to buy up network TV time in 16 years, the Democratic nominee for President is getting primetime airspace at a sub-prime rate.

Obama will reportedly only be paying $1 million to every network that airs his 30 minute infomercial on October 29.  So far, both CBS and NBC will run the program.  The campaign is reportedly still talking to ABC and FOX as well.

Recommended: Election 2012: 12 reasons Obama won and Romney lost

Everything is above board.  The campaign is being charged the "lowest unit cost" as mandated by federal law.

Variety show? Drama?  Sitcom?

What's it about?  Unclear at this point.  As the program runs on the anniversary of the stock market collapse which ushered in the Great Depression, the odds are the economy might just be mentioned.

But the address is two weeks out.  Who knows what they could use the time for.  Just over two weeks ago, McCain and Obama were tied up in the polls at 46 percent each.

If the ACORN issue blows up on Obama, he could use the time to counter that.  If the Ayers connection takes hold, he could address this issue.  What if the McCain camp plays the Jeremiah Wright card?

Anything is possible in the next two weeks.

Prior Informercials

The last presidential candidate to go the infomercial route was H. Ross Perot back in 1992.  In 1968, Richard Nixon bought a two-hour spot the night before the election.  And in 1960, then JFK ran a 30 minute commercial.  Joe Biden might contend that FDR bought some time immediately after the stock market crash.

Dot why?

But this is the age of the Internet.  Is TV still the right medium?  Apparently so.  Even the guys over at the Machinist - a tech blog over at Salon, lament that TV is still the mass media mover.

Despite the YouTube debates, the Twitter debates and all sorts of gimmickry that we’ve seen thus far, in the end, it’s television that matters for these types of nationally broadcast messages. Despite all the hype online with folks like Obama girl, it says something when you’re willing to drop serious coin to be on nationwide airwaves.

Preemption OK

Apparently the buy will bump back the first half hour of NBC's new "Knight Rider" program which apparently David Hasselhoff is not a part of.  For some people, like the Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan, this is probably a good thing.  In a recent column Ryan speculated why NBC created the program:

NBC decided that last year’s half-baked retread of “Bionic Woman” just wasn’t bad enough, and the network felt compelled to come up with a remake that is even less substantial and more gratuitously stupid. 

Perot

Regardless, perhaps Obama will ask Ross Perot for advice on how to develop an infomercial.

His spots were blunt, informative and entertaining.  In one of his telecasts, Perot brought with him what he called a "voodoo" stick because "we're in deep voodoo," Perot said.

With that, he took the stick and outlined the nation's problems with his trademark charts and graphs.

McCain response

Although the McCain campaign has not announced any plans to counter the programming, we still like the idea the Republican candidate appearing in a sitcom with a bunch of 30-somethings.

What would he call it?  "My Friends”.

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