Bilbray-Peters Air War Waged 30 Seconds at a Time: Files Reveal Buys

Cabinets at KUSI and four other San Diego TV stations share ad information required by the FCC.

The night before Election Day, Scott Peters will be on Dancing with the Stars and his congressional opponent Brian Bilbray will be on Wheel of Fortune.

Think that’s impressive? Democrat Peters will appear between plays of the NFL game Sunday between the Arizona Cardinals and Green Bay Packers. But Republican incumbent Bilbray will come back Monday with a spot on Ellen, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres, who gleefully backs President Obama.

Strange bedfellows indeed.

When it comes to TV commercials for the biggest political battle in San Diego County, you buy what you can afford and reach everyone you can.

Super PACs and conventional campaign committees are pumping millions of dollars into the 52nd Congressional District—considered a key race by both parties. The exact amounts may never be known.

But anyone can see where Bilbray and Peters are spending their TV money by clicking a set of links or paying a visit to KUSI at 4575 Viewridge Ave. in Kearny Mesa.

The Federal Communications Commission requires the top four stations in the 50 biggest U.S. media markets to post candidate contracts online at stations.fcc.gov.

In San Diego, that means NBC affiliate KNSD (Channel 39), CBS affiliate KFMB (Channel 8), ABC’s KGTV (Channel 10) and Fox’s KSWB (Channel 60) update their so-called political files regularly. 

Recent samples are attached to this article.

But independent station KUSI, being No. 5 in the San Diego market, is required only to make its candidate files available during regular office hours. Patch paid a visit in mid-October and photocopied a major sampling of the Peters and Bilbray filings.

The new U-T TV—the cable and web-based TV station—isn’t required to keep similar records.

“U-T TV has no requirement to have a political file,” said Brian Musick, sales manager of the station that launched in May. “We are not an FCC-licensed station.”

In the past several months, KUSI alone has made “millions” of dollars from political ads, said Tim McCarthy, the station’s national sales manager. And among the visitors to his station to see his political files have been representatives of other TV stations.

That’s because the 30-second ad rates paid by political campaigns are a public record—although they reflect the best rates available to advertisers making long-term purchases, as mandated by the FCC.

Still, the Peters and Bilbray campaigns—as well as outside Democratic and Republican groups, such as Washington-based congressional campaign committees—are paying a pretty penny.

Some spots are cheaper than others.

Bilbray’s campaign will pay $125 for a 30-second spot on KNSD’s Steve Harvey show Monday. But later that day, it will be charged $625 for a spot on Ellen.

When Peters’ single ad appears Monday night on Dancing with the Stars, however, he’ll pay $3,000.

For two spots on NFL on Fox this Sunday, Peters will pay a total of $6,000.

Overall, in the final eight days of the election, Peters will pay a net $25,351, according to his filings. And that’s for only one TV station—Fox’s KSWB. His first TV spot of the general election aired Sept. 12.

Bilbray—whose commercials range from attacks on Peters to heart-rending appeals from his cancer-stricken daughter—will pay $1,875 for a single spot on Wheel of Fortune the night before the election, filings show.

The San Diego Reader reported that Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform foundation have spent more than $1.4 million on TV ads attacking Peters.

According to an Associated Press report Wednesday, the 52nd District race will be among the top 10 most expensive nationwide.

“In San Diego, where Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray is trying to fend off Democrat Scott Peters, outside groups as varied as Planned Parenthood and Americans for Tax Reform, headed by low-tax crusader Grover Norquist, had spent more than $7.4 million through Monday,” the AP reported.

Between Oct. 29 and Monday night, Bilbray is planning to run 18 spots at a net cost of $24,951.75 on KNSD alone. 

The Democratic-backed House Majority PAC supplements Peters’ own spending with its own ad buys. In one contract, from Oct. 23 to Oct. 29, that PAC bought 87 spots at a cost of $73,850—on KGTV alone.

Because of the vagaries of politics—and TV schedules—both campaigns filed dozens of revisions to their ad buys. And stations also offer “make goods”—adding spots when the originals don’t achieve the promised ratings or viewership.

To see what other candidates and proposition backers and opponents are spending on local TV, check out these Public Files links via the FCC site.

(Type in a station’s call letters and click the icon that looks like a red star hanging from a blue ribbon.) 

RATSJ November 01, 2012 at 06:31 AM
Bilbray should be ashamed of himself to exploit his daughter's cancer to help him get re-elected. He doesn't deserve anyone's vote. What a loser!
Ed Sorrels November 01, 2012 at 06:42 AM
RATSJ, Here are my 2 Cents worth on your post ! It is apparent that you niether know the seantor or anything about him except the crap in 30 second doses that you see on the idiot box, I have known him since before he was the Major of our fair town and the kid's were small. I can tell you only this when Briana came forward on the idiot box it was not because of exploitgation by her dad but because she wanted to help and I believe she has on both prop 5 and the reelection efforts of her father who I will vote for not because he exploits his childern but because he is far and away the best man for the job, Just as I am not voting for Pat for those same reason's.
Komfort November 01, 2012 at 06:42 AM
It's a woman's choice, RATSJ. Do you have no respect for a 25 year old female? Hypocrite. Here is an example of exploitation of daughters: "I've got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby." http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0308/Punished_with_a_baby.html Assuming Obama is a man, what business does he have meddling with females??
RATSJ November 01, 2012 at 06:46 AM
I know enough to not vote for him!
Ed Sorrels November 01, 2012 at 06:56 AM
Komfort, Please rethink your post above, It is every man's duty to try to protect those he loves be they male or female, all the president said was that he wanted to protect them and try to see if they strayed that what ever the repercussion's that they wern't disproportionate, He sound's like a caring father and man to me as I have always wished the same for my children !
Ed Sorrels November 01, 2012 at 07:09 AM
RATSJ, I applaud your Intent to vote for your canidate, We all should but there are a few days left before the election, Google peter's and you just might change your mind, He has quite a history on the local scene.
Komfort November 01, 2012 at 07:10 AM
Are babies punishment?
RATSJ November 01, 2012 at 07:13 AM
Thanks Ed...I've done my home work!
Libi Uremovic November 01, 2012 at 11:55 AM
why is this seat a hot race?
Brian P@ Bilbray November 01, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Its not exploitation, it was her idea to do the ad. The is she is benefitting from the research that pops championed in the past. Ucla gave up on her and gave her 5 years, now with this new treatment at least she has options! And thanks Ed it's always good to hear from a true Ib local who knows pops and is willing to go to bat for him!
Doug Curlee November 01, 2012 at 09:00 PM
libi.. it's a hot race because a well-funded democrat has a good chance of unseating a several-term conservative republican congressman.. no other real reason.. doug
Andy Schreiber November 01, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Peters' ads are some of the most unintentionally comical things I have seen on TV in a long time. He has an ad that blames Bilbray for, among other things, the $16 trillion national debt. Really??? (Coming from a man who isn't exactly known for fiscal conservatism, that's rich.) Also, that would seem to suggest (rightly, I know) that such debt is a decidedly *bad* thing, right? (Not sure that President Obama would appreciate that very much.) Also (in the same ad, I think), he suggests that Bilbray would somehow prevent women from having access to contraceptives??? I had no idea that Congressman Bilbray was so powerful! (Some have gone so far as to say that he has a mixed record regarding his stance on abortion, so it doesn't seem likely that he is anti-contraception, as if his stance on that mattered anyway.) I do thank Peters for providing some levity this political season, even if unintentionally-so. :)
ibsandyshores November 01, 2012 at 11:44 PM
It may have been her idea, but "pops" paid for it.
RATSJ November 02, 2012 at 01:52 AM
People have been told for years how damaging the rays of the sun are, yet some fail to take the proper precautions to protect their skin. This ad is nothing more than a political ploy so that everyone will feel sorry for Mr. Bilbray and vote for him. I know many others who have commented about this ad and feel the same way. He really should not be running for office....instead he should stay home and be with his daughter for whatever remaining time she has. She is among thousands who are going through this very same thing. A tan looks good, but the consequences are not so good. Think about it!
Catwoman November 02, 2012 at 05:29 PM
As a person being treated for cancer, I find Brian Bilbray's exploitation of his daughter's terminal cancer disgusting. Bilbray apparently started a skin cancer foundation, funded by a tax on tanning salons included in Obamacare. He and the rest of the GOP have vowed to repeal Obamacare. Bilbray has not said where the money for his foundation will come from if repealed. If I was dying and thought my dad actually had some insight into curing cancer, I would do a commercial too. She's been manipulated by the love of her father. I do feel horrible for her.
Catwoman November 02, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Unfortunately, sun isn't the only thing that causes melanoma. But I agree with RATSJ that Bilbray is going for the pity vote.
Ed Sorrels November 03, 2012 at 01:56 AM
You are more than welcome Pat, I just wish the newcomers here in our I.B. Knew him like those of us that have been here for awhile. All the luck to both of you on the 6th.
Mary November 03, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Komfort - there is that ra----t hatred coming out again. I know! You just can't help yourself.
Ed Sorrels November 03, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Apparently they are or have been for you ! but that was not what I said and you damn well know it !
Komfort November 03, 2012 at 03:46 AM
Mary thinks Sandra Fluke is a different r--e than Briana Bilbray.


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