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Last Sunday morning, KOIN-TV aired a special mixing vignettes of breast-cancer survivors with live footage of a fund-raising run for cancer research. Midway through the Race for the Cure special, tobacco companies aired a commercial panning a cigarette-tax hike on the November ballot that would pay for health care.
Sponsoring a TV show on cancer may seem an odd move for tobacco companies. But cigarette-makers have lots of money to spend on Portland television audiences these days, and they're not alone.
Twenty-three ballot measures qualified for the November ballot, and the networks' fall TV lineups will be clogged with campaign ads.
"The onslaught really hits television soon," said Pat McCormick, a Portland media specialist for ballot-measure campaigns. "Television viewers are going to be assaulted by political issues and political candidates like they've never seen on television before."
Cigarette-tax opponents have already pledged to buy 371 spots on just three of Portland's TV stations, at a cost of $397,575. Buyers for all the ballot measures have reserved 2,646 spots on the three stations. The cost: $1.8 million and rising.
Tobacco Tax (Measure 44) TV Ads(*) (Pro) (Con) No. of spots/Cost No. of spots/Cost KATU 51/$25,700 108/$192,600 KOIN 45/$19,375 194/$164,425 KPTV 72/$25,855 69/$40,550 KGW NA NA * Ads placed as of 9/10 Source: TV station political ad books
"It's going to be a record year, there's no question about that," said Lynn Thorsen, a partner at Smith & Thorsen, a Portland ad-placement firm. "Come the last week of the election, people are going to go, 'Oh, God, not another …