With a week to go before its off-year election, TV stations in Portland, Ore., are cashing in big on political ads. The price for a 30-second spot on the most sought-after shows has jumped by two
or three times in the last few weeks as Big Tobacco tries to defeat a ballot measure that would raise cigarette taxes. "Rates just started to go through the roof this last week," says state Sen. Larry
George, a Republican who is running the ad campaign against the measure.
The cost of one prime-time 30-sec spot is $10,000. So far, campaigns for and against the tobacco tax
have laid out more than $8 million to Oregon TV broadcasters. Coming during a year and time when stations don't normally get much political advertising, the higher ad rates are forcing many other
advertisers to shift their schedules.
Portland's broadcasters sold $180 million worth of ads, with $14.6 million from political advertisers, according to data from Fisher Communications. But in the past two months, they have brought in more than $4.75 million from the campaigns, roughly 10% of their quarterly revenue.