30-min. primetime segment set for Oct. 29

Barack Obama is breaking the bank for an 11th-hour network buy.

Obama’s campaign has bought 30 minutes of primetime on CBS and NBC to air a special program.

Date and timeslot is the same for both buys: 8 p.m. ET Oct. 29.

As of Thursday, the Obama campaign was also talking to Fox for a similar buy, but potential conflict with the World Series broadcast is hampering negotiations. ABC had also been approached and was beginning the negotiation process with the Obama camp.

While not unprecedented, the move is unusual in that presidential campaigns tend to aim TV spending at local broadcast outlets in specific battleground states. But with so many states in play this election, a network buy could be more efficient and economical.

So far, both Obama and John McCain campaigns have bought network time for ads in daytime hours and during the news hour, but this is the first network buy for a 30-minute primetime slot in the 2008 election. Ross Perot bought a half-hour of network time during his unsuccessful 1992 run for the presidency.

Under federal equal-time rules, CBS and NBC would have to offer similar rates to the McCain campaign if it sought to buy the same amount of air in primetime. In a statement, CBS said, “We will, of course, make an equivalent opportunity available to Senator McCain and other legally qualified candidates upon request.”

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