Who’s buying ads on Spanish-language TV — and who’s not


When Sunlight last read the pulse of spending at Spanish-language broadcast TV stations — in Colorado and Arizona — we were surprised that our search for contracts in these states turned up nothing. But we’re now beginning to see some action. A review of all Spanish-language broadcast stations shows that since the beginning of this month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) has secured nearly $400,000 worth of air time at Spanish-language stations around Miami (where 38 percent of the population speaks Spanish, according to the last Census) and Fresno, Calif. (37 percent Spanish speaking). Other groups have also begun to make buys in markets where the Hispanic vote could be key. You can see a map of where the action is — and the underlying data — below.

The DCCC’s Republican counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), has not made a similar investment at Spanish-language broadcast station. The NRCC has been contacted for comment and this post will be updated if Sunlight receives a reply.

Since July 1, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has all broadcast TV stations are required to publish their political ad contracts online per a new rule by the FCC. All of these ad files are collected by Sunlight’s Political Ad Sleuth. Because an earlier order mandated online filing for only affiliates of the big four broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC), this marks the first time that contracts for airtime on Spanish-language stations are widely available. Sunlights review finds that few political players have invested in heavily Spanish-speaking markets so far, but those that have are making substantial buys. Since the new rule went into effect, five groups accounted for just over $750,000 worth of air time, good for 243 ad spots.

Most large Spanish markets haven’t seen any ad buys

Though many markets with a large Spanish-speaking population have yet to see any action on broadcast stations, the DCCC has dropped $360,000 in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area, securing ad time from Oct. 21 through election day. Political oddsmaker Stuart Rothenberg lists the congressional race in the nearby 26th district as a potential pickup for the GOP.

Additionally, both state party committees in Florida — where Hispanics and Latinos make up around 24 percent of the population — have bought air time in advance of the state’s competitive gubernatorial election in November. A current ad from the Florida GOP touts Republican incumbent Rick Scott as a friend to small business.

Meanwhile, not a single buy has been locked down yet in New York state. The only broadcast station that transmits solely in Spanish is Telefutura affiliate WFTY in the New York City market — where 26 percent of the population speaks Spanish at home. Yet WFTY has not received a single political ad buy since the rule went in to effect.

Where’s Wendy?

In the Lone Star State, Texans for Greg Abbott are preparing for an advertising blitz at Univision affiliates KNIC and KWEX in San Antonio. The Republican’s gubernatorial campaign has spent over $180,000 in the San Antonio market, buying ad time from early October to election day. The Houston Chronicle reported June 17 that his campaign’s first statewide ad was in Spanish.

Abbott’s Democratic challenger, Wendy Davis, has not secured any ad time on the state’s Spanish-language stations since the new FCC disclosure rule.

The American-Statesman reports the two campaigns have been neck-and-neck in their fundraising efforts.

SEIU targets House Republican candidates over immigration

The most recent Spanish advertising push to hit the air waves comes from the political arm of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU COPE). The politically-active union on Monday unveiled a new series of ads targeting House Republicans for their stance on immigration reform. The group purchased several weeks of ad time in Colorado, against two Republican candidates in tossup races: Rep. Cory Gardner, who is trying to knock off Sen. Mark Udall, R-Colo., and Rep. Mike Coffman, who is battling well-funded Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff in what’s shaping up to be one of the nation’s most expensive House races. The union ran similar ads in California.

While some political groups are beginning to spend some money to attract the much-vaunted Hispanic voting bloc, the ad money spent by the SEIU in Colorado is a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the money advertisers are pouring into that state.

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Note: Ad contracts secured before July 1 are not required to be disclosed online. These contracts and order forms were collected by Sunlight’s Political Ad Sleuth tool and summarized manually by Sunlight reporting. Cable stations are not required to disclose their political ad files online.