Fox Won’t Sell Super Bowl Ads to Candidates
There may be ads for beer, cars and computers on the Super Bowl, but there won’t be any for presidential candidates.
Fox has put an end to speculation that one or more of the presidential candidates might use the highest-rated TV broadcast of the year to air a national campaign spot two days before more than 20 states hold presidential primary and caucus votes.
While no candidate has yet requested time, the network has declared it won’t sell Super Bowl spots to their campaigns.
The reasons: The show is sold out and equal opportunities couldn’t be provided to all candidates, even if some additional time could be found for one to buy in.
Fox is saying it will comply with Federal Communications Commission rules.
“We comply with all legal requirements when it comes to selling time to candidates, including any requirements that might apply to a unique broadcast like the Super Bowl,” the network said.
Sources close to the situation said that because ad time in the Super Bowl is essentially sold out, Fox will choose to not sell time to a candidate, citing an FCC ruling that a network can reasonably refuse to sell political time in “unique, one-time-only” broadcasts where equal ad time can’t be offered to all candidates.
In a decision in another case, the FCC said, “Although a candidate for federal office is entitled … to varied broadcast times, such a candidate is not entitled to a particular placement of his or her political announcement on [a] station’s broadcast schedule.”
Speculation about the presidential candidates buying into the game sprang from the unusual timing of this year’s game on Feb. 3, two days before Super Tuesday.
Though Fox is asking between $2.6 million and $3 million for Super Bowl spots—a pretty high price for any commercial, let alone a political spot—some political experts and media watchers had suggested that a buy might be worth it because of the buzz and publicity a candidate could generate.
“If I were Mitt Romney, I would buy a Super Bowl spot, which would be two days before Super Tuesday, produce something very creative and get tons of free press out of it,” said Matthew Dowd, a political consultant, before Fox’s stance was discovered. “No campaign has done that before.”
Evan Tracey, chief operating officer of TNSI Media Intelligence’s Campaign Media Analysis Group, which tracks campaign ad spending, had suggested a Super Bowl spot could help to motivate supporters, with parties to watch the game and a half-time “get out there and fight” call from the candidate. Mr. Tracey said he had heard rumors that some campaign staffs were looking at the possibility.
The Super Bowl, which airs Feb. 3, pits the undefeated New England Patriots against the New York Giants.