The FCC “Political File” Ruling and Price Transparency

Last week the Federal Communications Commission ruled that stations affiliated with the top four national networks (ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox) and serve the top 50 markets must post “political file documents” online.

All stations— regardless of size— already have to maintain such files and make them available to the public. Stations balked at this rule, however, because they’re concerned that their competitors will be able to easily see revenues from political ads and overall rates charged. Here’s a snip from the Chicago Tribune story, “FCC passes online political ad rule: Stations will be required to post campaign spending info“:

For months, broadcasters have objected to the new rule, arguing that even though they already must disclose it, posting it online would give competitors access to commercially sensitive rate information. Broadcasters last week had proposed a compromise to instead post a campaign’s total ad buy, rather than specific information on the exact amount paid per ad. Stations are required to sell candidates time at the lowest unit rate.

We hear these kinds of arguments all the time, and they feel more and more like the fading bleats of lambs. There is a brutal efficiency to spreadsheeting rates for ad time. We’ve all experienced the pain of hidden truths in markets (no one else really wants the house you’re bidding on, the car dealership is about to stop selling that Dodge Dart, the grocer is about to throw out those tomatoes anyway). People make bank off of knowledge gaps, and closing them can be scary. Let’s go ahead and be scared for a while.

It was interesting to see the FCC struggle with requiring stations to post in a standard format for reporting this data. Here’s snips:

We will not establish specific formatting requirements for documents posted to the online public file at this time. Some commenters promoted making the data well-structured as searchable as possible, and downloadable.


We agree that certain information in the public file would be of much greater benefit to the public if made available in a structured or database-friendly format that can be aggregated, manipulated, and more easily analyzed; this continues to be our ultimate goal.

This is evidence of growing pains inside this particular industry that are repeated nearly everywhere else. We can expect that wily stations may upload their documents in non-searchable PDFs so that they can comply with the rule while making analysis as difficult as possible.

One day at a time.

FCC 12 44A1 (Text)

Some Thoughts on Rush Limbaugh and Advertising

I don’t have much unique to add to the amazing and effective campaign to muff up Rush Limbaugh after his heinous remarks of last week. It’s wonderful.

I have, however, listened to this person for many years (it’s the best way to figure out Republican political strategy) and I’m kind of obsessed with reverse-engineering facts and patterns. I’ve got some stuff on that:

  • Rush Limbaugh is a master pitchman. A huge amount of his advertising is “live reads” that he deftly bakes into the content of his show. One minute he’s ranting about a current hacking scandal and the next he’s extolling the virtues of backing up your files with Carbonite
  • The list of advertisers who have left are pretty much the only ones I’ve ever heard advertised on his show. These are long-time, huge volume advertisers
  • Developing new relationships like this is not a simple matter. It’s one thing to have companies place ready-made campaigns on your show. It’s another altogether to develop sophisticated content strategies that hide the ads in your unique content
  • Apparently today people heard Allstate commercials on the Rush show and they called out Allstate immediately. At first, Allstate said they didn’t know what people were talking about and that they didn’t advertise on his show. Then they issued a clarification saying their media buyer pumped commercials on the show. This sounds believable to me
  • I don’t know anything about radio ad sales, but it sounds like the Rush people dipped into a generic pool of ads to fill the empty space (some sort of high-quality remnant thingy?)
  • It would be cool if someone listened to every single Rush Limbaugh show and compiled/ tweeted the authoritative list of all commercials, including company name, general content, format, and contact info (Twitter/ Facebook/ corporate, etc.) for each. This would help keep the pressure on and get a better bead on the advertising industry in general– for the war next time

Regional Bike Ride: Logan Square West to Winfield, IL via City Streets and the Illinois Prairie Path

On September 6, 2010 I rode from my house in Chicago to Winfield, IL.

I used Google Maps bike directions to figure out the path, and took pictures along the way, all of which are pinpointed on the map here:

Regional Bike Ride Chicago: Pics Along a Route

I like how the images make an implied route. I learned a lot about the region on this ride. Here are some takeaways while rolling down Armitage Avenue westbound from California:

You've got your standard stalled real estate projects like this on at 3038 West Armitage:

3038 West Armitage Non-Development: Regional Bike Ride Chicago

But I also saw some businesses that seem to be thriving, like Dorothy's Liquors, with fresh paint and custom typography at 3219 West Armitage:

Dorothy's Lounge, 3219 West Armitage: Regional Bike Ride Chicago

And Marilyn's Fashions, at 4200 West Armitage, has a layaway plan, and well as some kick-ass illustrations on their sign out front:

Marilyn Fashion, 4200 West Armitage: Regional Bike Ride Chicago

I think that woman on the lower right is fashionably lounging on a dock. Awesome detail best viewed large.

Armitage is certainly not lacking in interesting architecture:

Cool Building, 4243 W. Armitage: Regional Bike Ride Chicago

I checked the Chicago landmark survey, and this building wasn't on it. That surprised me.

Much has been written about the disappearing manufacturing base in Chicago neighborhoods. It has definitely shruck, but it's not gone. A & D Candy looks like they had a lot of action, with employees and trucks going in and out:

A & D Candy, 4545 W. Armitage: Regional Bike Ride Chicago

And service companies that help machines run smoothly are also still present, like Stoner & Co. Double Disc Grinding at 3233 West Armitage:

3223 W Armitage Ave: Regional Bike Ride Chicago

Apparently double disc grinding is a good thing:

Double-Disc Grinding is a highly efficient grinding method that reduces premachining costs up to 50% and provides dimensional tolerances, parallelism, and flatness to ±.0002". Double-Disc Grinding uses two opposing abrasive wheels to simultaneously grind two sides of a blank. In one operation, equal amounts of material are removed from both sides.

Grinding two sides of a part at the same time provides greater control of dimensional tolerances, flatness, and parallelism…allowing Double Disc Grinding to achieve tolerances superior to Blanchard Grinding or flycutting. Additionally, Double-Disc Grinding provides surface finishes of up to 16 Ra on aluminum and up to 8 Ra on ferrous alloys.

And L & M Welding is certainly not the shoeless offspring, when it comes to signage:

LM Welding, 4619 W Armitage Ave: Regional Bike Ride Chicago

They know how to party, too. I would have liked to have attended an event during the heyday of the Shorewood Room:

Garden Manor: Elegant Banquets, 4722 W Armitage Ave: Regional Bike Ride Chicago

There seems to be lots of qualified carpenter/ laborer types looking for work at the Home Depot on Cicero:

Home Depot, 1919 N Cicero Ave: Regional Bike Ride Chicago

So at this point, I'm onl at Cicero and Armitage. There's lots to see riding a bike in the Chicago area. More tomorrow.

Painted Ad

Painted Ad, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

Roosevelt Road at Kostner.

Glorious Pain

Glorious Pain, originally uploaded by juggernautco.

I was somewhat disturbed by the expression on this woman’s face.