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October 27, 2008

ABC will not air half-hour Obama ad

83456211_2 ABC will air "Pushing Daisies" in its usual time period on Wednesday night -- not the Barack Obama ad.

The news ends a guessing game that's been going on for nearly a month.

The Obama campaign purchased a half hour of airtime on NBC, Fox and CBS, spending about $1 million per network. ABC was absent from the list when it was first reported Oct. 9 and the network has since remained silent about its programming intentions for the evening. With ratings for "Daisies" slipping, some have wondered whether the network would air "Daisies" as usual, air the Obama ad, or take the opportunity run something else entirely. It's not often a network has the major broadcast airwaves largely free of any competing entertainment programming.

One source said ABC offered the airtime, but the Obama campaign, for whatever reason, declined to buy an ad. 

Perhaps the campaign decided ads running on three broadcast networks was sufficient, or decided to pour the money into, say, West Virginia.

The move gives Obama near-domination of the major broadcast networks at 8 p.m. Wednesday evening less than a week before Election Day. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision will also air the ad. Fifth broadcaster the CW will counter program with its usual show in the time period, "America's Next Top Model."

Obama's increasingly mysterious special has not yet been delivered to networks. Sources say the ad is almost certainly taped, rather than a live telecast, and can be submitted as late as the morning of its broadcast. Since the content is political advertising, the special will not go through standards and practices. The special was parodied this weekend on "Saturday Night Live" (video here).

Update: I've been hearing that ABC, feeling protective of its struggling Wednesday night block, hesitated too long to offer the Obama campaign the 8 p.m. slot. By the time the network agreed, the deal was off the table. Lisa de Moraes mangaged to lock this down via the Obama camp. Here's her story. 

Update II: CNN rejected Obama ad; Fox News not asked

Update III: "Daisies" creator Bryan Fuller on competing against Barack Obama

Previous: Thoughts on "The Obama Show" ... Obama buys half-hour of network primetime.


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