Ongoing Series { Who's Buying Political Ads in Hawaii

The Public File: Olympics Mean Pricey Political Ads

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With the Olympics kicking off last week and the primary election just around the corner, political candidates and issue groups spent big bucks on ad time this week, according to Civil Beat's most recent look at the political files.

The Pacific Resource Partnership (PRP), a consortium of contractors and Hawaii's construction union, paid $8,700 a pop for three spots set to air during primetime Olympic events. Those appear to be the most pricey spots of the week.

Honolulu mayoral candidate Ben Cayetano's campaign paid Oceanic Time Warner Cable more than $11,000 for a "Big Ben Olympic Package" that includes a commercial on the carrier's on-demand Olympics channel.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Mazie Hirono this week spent close to $150,000 on ad time, bringing her total spending up to about $540,000.

She bought 672 spots that are scheduled to air through the end of this week on all the local broadcast stations and a range of Oceanic Time Warner cable networks. Some of the spots feature 30-second commercials, while others are devoted to 1-minute-long commercials.

A handful of the spots aired or will air during Olympics programming on KHNL. One of them — a 60-second spot set to air Aug. 4 during primetime Olympics — cost her $4,800.

Civil Beat each week has been stopping by Hawaii's three broadcast stations to make copies of their political ad contracts. The documents indicate which candidates and independent expenditure committees have bought ad time and for how how much.

Broadcast stations are by law required to make these files available to the public. But the contracts are only accessible at the stations.

That's changing, but not in Hawaii, at least for now.

A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ruling that requires some stations to post that information online went into effect Thursday despite intense resistance from the nation's broadcasters. The ruling was originally passed in April.

That requirement, however, only applies to affiliates of the top four broadcast networks in the top 50 markets. Hawaii's broadcasters are exempt from the ruling until July 2014, when all stations will have to post their political ad documents online, because Honolulu's market ranks in the 70s.

The new FCC website does contain profiles for Hawaii's stations — KHON, for example. These profiles provide useful information, such as ownership reports, Equal Employment Opportunity records and maps demonstrating how far the station's signal reaches.

A peek at the website reveals that mainland stations are already starting to quickly upload documents. The database was publicly unveiled for the first time in mid-July.

Commercials For Other U.S. Senate Contenders, Pacific Resource Partnership

Hirono's Republican opponent Linda Lingle this week spent more than $68,000 on ad time. She bought 192 spots on KHON, KITV, KGMB, KHNL and several Oceanic Time Warner cable networks, most of which will air through the weekend.

Lingle continues to pay $2,500 each week for her Time Warner Cable channel and $5,000 to maintain her banner ad on KITV's website. She also bought spots during Olympics programming, including five spots during primetime that cost about $3,500 a pop.

As of this week, the U.S. Senate candidate has spent a total of at least $478,000 on commercials.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Ed Case, who's back on the air after a five-month hiatus, this week spent about $38,000. He bought 92 spots on KHON, KITV, KITV subsidiary MeTV, KGMB and KHNL that are set to air through the end of this week. Case spent $9,000 total on spots scheduled to air during Olympics programming.

As of this week, the Democrat has spent about $100,000 total on ad time.

PRP this week spent about $125,000 on ad time, bringing its total spending to about $1.3 million. The group bought 284 spots on KHON, KITV, KGMB and KHNL that are set to air through the Aug. 11 primary elections.

Some of those spots feature the highly publicized anti-Cayetano "Read Ben's Record" commercials.

Other Political Ad Buys

Here's an overview of other candidates' and independent expenditure committees' purchases:

Honolulu Mayor

  • Kirk Caldwell spent about $35,000 on 90 spots that have been airing this week on all the local broadcast stations. He bought 10 spots scheduled to air during Olympics programming. As of this week, the former acting mayor has spent a total of about $160,000 on ad time.

  • Peter Carlisle spent about $43,000 on 205 spots that are set to air next week on KITV, MeTV, KFVE and KGMB. Four of those spots are set to air during pre-season football on Aug. 10 — the day before the primary. As of this week, the current mayor has spent a total of more than $360,000 on ad time.

  • Cayetano spent more than $60,000 on spots that are set to air through the primary on all the local broadcast stations and various Oceanic Time Warner Cable networks. As of this week, the former governor has spent at least $256,000 airing his commercials.

U.S. Representative, Congressional District 2

  • Rafael del Castillo spent about $2,000 on 12 15-second spots on KHNL. Ten of them are scheduled to air during Olympics programming. He also bought a set of Internet pre-rolls — commercials that air prior to online videos — on KGMB's website. They cost him $825. As of this week, the Democrat has spent about $5,000 on ad time.

  • Tulsi Gabbard spent roughly $78,000 on 358 spots that are scheduled to air through the primary on KHON, KITV, MeTV and KGMB. She bought several spots scheduled to air during Keiki Hula. As of this week, the Democrat has spent a total of close to $340,000 airing her commercials.

  • Mufi Hannemann spent about $76,000 on 381 spots that are scheduled to air through the end of this week on all the local broadcast stations and several Oceanic Time Warner cable networks. He bought eight spots set to broadcast during Olympics programming. As of this week, the Democrat has spent about $325,000 on ad time.

City Council

  • Past contracts for Inam Rahman, who is running to represent the district that includes Mililani, Waipahu and Ewa Beach, also appeared in KGMB's public files this week. He spent about $5,000 on 26 spots that aired throughout July. One of those spots, which cost him $1,200, broadcast during the July 12 "Race for Congress" debate. Another one, costing about the same, aired during the July 26 "Senate Showdown" debate. The last time he bought ad time was in late May. As of this week, the Council candidate has spent close to $9,000.

Independent Expenditure Committees

  • An Oceanic Time Warner Cable contract with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce appeared online this week. The document shows that the organization spent another $79,000 on 672 spots on various cable networks. The spots feature commercials endorsing Lingle. As of this week, the group has spent a total of more than $730,000 on ad time.

Grand Totals

Candidates and independent expenditure committees spent approximately $759,000 on ad time this week. As of Wednesday, total spending this election season was around $4.7 million. Forty percent of that money, or roughly $1.9 million, was spent by independent expenditure committees.


DISCUSSION: What do you think about this week's political ad buys?


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Here are this week's spending reports. They are organized by candidate and independent expenditure group:

Kirk Caldwell

Peter Carlisle

Ed Case

Ben Cayetano

Rafael del Castillo

Tulsi Gabbard

Mufi Hannemann

Mazie Hirono

Linda Lingle

Pacific Resource Partnership

Inam Rahman

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