City Desk

D.C. TV Stations Raking in the Citizens United Cash

Whether you're watching Days of Our Lives, the Today Show, or the Olympics closing ceremonies on NBC next week, you'll see an ad from Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS super PAC. Crossroads will pay steeply for the privilege—about $50,000 for the Olympics spots. And they're buying a lot of spots.

The Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United ruling may not have been great for representative democracy, but it's opened a new revenue stream for Washington's TV stations. So far this month, Crossroads has spent nearly $1 million at three local TV stations.

A new Federal Communications Commission rule requiring Washington's network-affiliated stations to post political ad purchase forms online reveals that Crossroads, the only super PAC ad purchaser disclosed so far in the forms, has spent $995,152.50 on ads in the Washington area in August. That number doesn't include the entire month, since the buys only go through August 21, nor any ad buys at Fox 5, which has created a folder for Crossroads but hasn't uploaded any forms yet.

Helped by the Olympics, NBC affiliate WRC-TV is receiving the most money from Crossroads, making a net $480,675 between July 30 and August 21. Crossroads even bought $8,500 worth of ads on the station's digital cable channel NBC Washington Nonstop.

ABC affiliate WJLA received a net $314,600 for ads from August 8 to August 21 from Crossroads, while CBS affiliate WUSA 9 sold a net $199,878 from the super PAC.

The stations are also making big ad sales to the official presidential campaigns. Barack Obama's campaign paid $209,100 for ads on WJLA, while Mitt Romney's campaign paid the station $203,235. Romney outspent Obama at NBC 4, buying $174,675 of ads compared to Obama's $127,500.

Romney's campaign spent $170,295.50 on ads at CBS affiliate WUSA 9 for August ads. The CBS affiliate has, for some reason, disclosed Obama campaign ad buys through Election Day—the president's campaign is committed to spending at least $657,709 through November.

Photo by 350z33 via a Creative Commons license.

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