Political ad filings show what TV shows charge

A 30-second spot on Modern Family costs $30,000

This story is the third in a series on television ad buys on local stations. Earlier: Young Guns set sights on Tierney-Tisei race and Kennedy places orders for $450,000 in TV ads.

A 30-second Massachusetts political ad running on ABC’s Modern Family in October is expected to cost $30,000, while the same spot will cost $15,000 on Dancing with the Stars and $1,400 on Chronicle.

Those are some of the prices that can be gleaned from the political advertising filings of local TV stations  on the website of the Federal Communications Commission. The website not only shows what ad time politicians are buying but what the stations are charging for that time.

WCVB-TV (Channel 5), the local ABC affiliate, tends to receive the most money for its ads because its ratings are high and it offers good access to the coveted political demographic of 35- to 54-year-olds. Since Aug. 2, Channel 5 has raked in $1.3 million in ad payments or orders, followed by WBZ-TV (Channel 4) at $916,682, WHDH-TV (Channel 7) at $600,100, and WFXT-TV (Channel 25) at $552,500. Typically, 15 percent of a politician’s ad payment is remitted to the ad agency placing the ad.

The filings indicate most political ads tend to congregate around local news shows that appear throughout the day. Charges vary, with prices as low as $25 for a 30-second spot on a predawn news show in August on Channel 25 all the way up to $1,800 for a spot on the Channel  5 news at 11. Channel 7 charges $1,500 for a 30-second spot on its late news, while Channel  4 charges $1,620. Channel 25 charges $1,000 for its 10 p.m. news show.

Meet the Author

Bruce Mohl

Editor, CommonWealth

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

About Bruce Mohl

Bruce Mohl is the editor of CommonWealth magazine. Bruce came to CommonWealth from the Boston Globe, where he spent nearly 30 years in a wide variety of positions covering business and politics. He covered the Massachusetts State House and served as the Globe’s State House bureau chief in the late 1980s. He also reported for the Globe’s Spotlight Team, winning a Loeb award in 1992 for coverage of conflicts of interest in the state’s pension system. He served as the Globe’s political editor in 1994 and went on to cover consumer issues for the newspaper. At CommonWealth, Bruce helped launch the magazine’s website and has written about a wide range of issues with a special focus on politics, tax policy, energy, and gambling. Bruce is a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He lives in Dorchester.

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is now retired. A veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

The pricing shows who is the king of late-night comedy. The filings indicate Channel  7 receives $1,200 for a 30-second spot on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Channel  4 gets $350 for the same-length spot on the Late Show with David Letterman, and Channel  5 charges  $105 to $200 for a spot on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Saturday Night Live charges as much as $2,500 for a 30-second spot.

Here are some other charges for 30-second spots that pop up in the FCC filings: Good Morning America ($1,000), Regis & Kelly ($600), Ellen ($500), The View ($700), Eagles and Patriots preseason game  ($7,000), CSI Crime Scene Investigation ($5,000), Dr. Oz ($50 to $150), Dr. Phil ($190), and ($75).