Texas is not taking part in a discount offered by broadcasters that could have allowed it to air up to four times more television and radio ads to educate the public about changes to the state’s voter ID law. The Texas Secretary of State’s office has been running a 30-second voter ID television and radio spot in English and Spanish for almost two weeks, and has estimated that it will spend at least $1.3 million on a paid media campaign through Election Day to fulfill a court order. Experts, though, have said the TV and radio spend is not nearly enough to spread a message on airwaves in a state the size of Texas, which has 20 total television markets and two of the most expensive in the country in Houston and the Dallas/Fort Worth area. The Texas Association of Broadcasters, which represents the state’s over-the-air television and radio industry, offers a discount program that guarantees to triple or quadruple the ad buying power of a strapped-for-cash government agency or nonprofit seeking to get out a general education message. However, state broadcasters, who use public airwaves to disseminate their programming, said Texas’ voter outreach program did not qualify for the TAB discount.
TAB President Oscar Rodriguez said Texas was not eligible because the educational message it is trying to promulgate is not new because the state already aired voter ID-related education ads during the 2014 election cycle. Texas did not use the discount program then either.
Additionally, Rodriguez said the state’s $1.3 million ad budget generally exceeded the amount that qualifies for a TAB discount. “Our program is really intended for governmental entities and nonprofit groups that have a public education message and simply don’t have enough of a budget to buy a meaningful amount of airtime statewide to have an impact,” Rodriguez said.
Alicia Pierce, a spokeswoman for the Texas Secretary of State, said in addition to the restrictions cited by Rodriguez there were other limitations, such as TAB not being able to guarantee what markets the ads would run. She described the discount program as “not a good fit for us.”
Full Article: Texas voter ID ad dollars do not go far – Houston Chronicle.