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Obama Buys Half Hour On CBS, NBC

Barack Obama will star in his very own prime time special on CBS.

The Obama campaign has purchased a half hour of airtime for a special set to run commercial-free on Oct. 29 at 8 p.m., according to the network. CBS said in a statement it is prepared to make an "equivalent opportunity available to Senator McCain and other legally qualified candidates upon request." The offer essentially went without saying since FCC rules require the stations that carry the network to make such an offer.

The campaign has made a similar time buy on NBC, say sources, and is in talks with Fox, but scheduling is problematic there since the network has a potential World Series game scheduled for Oct. 29.

The Obama campaign has raised – and spent – an unprecedented amount on television advertising, 40% in prime time. That includes buys across all dayparts on CBS. 
Both Obama and the campaign of John McCain purchased national ad time during NBC’s coverage of the Summer Olympics in Beijing, paying $5 million and $6 million, respectively.But purchasing a half hour of prime time broadcast TV time on multiple networks will likely run the Obama campaign in the tens of millions of dollars.

The buy is not unprecedented. Ross Perot, the billionaire software designer from Texas, who ran for president in 1992 and 1996, purchased  30 minutes of TV time during the ’92 campaign. And Hillary Clinton bought a half-hour of airtime on the Hallmark Channel for a town hall-style event prior to Super Tuesday.

But the last decade has seen the bulk of campaign dollars go to local stations in battleground states.

With more swing states in play this election, though many appearing to be already swinging toward Obama, the campaign may figure it makes more sense to do a national buy rather than target individual states. The Obama campaign would not comment on the reports.

An NBC spokesperson could not be reached for comment at press time.

ABC was likely contacted as well, but there was no one available to comment at press time.

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