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KAI RYSSDAL: A firm called the Campaign Media Analysis Group figures that so far this cycle, 210 million dollars worth of ads have made it to air. Most ads were from the campaigns themselves. About a third came from outside groups. Not a whole lot from individuals, which is where this next story comes in. A website debuted this week that lets anyone make their own campaign ads for any candidate. And get them on TV. Jeremy Hobson has more on voter-voter-dot-com.
JEREMY HOBSON: If you want to give money to a Presidential candidate, you have to abide by federal limits: $2,300 per candidate per election. But if you want to make an ad for the candidate with your own message, you can spend as much as you want. Here's Voter-Voter CEO Eric Mathewson.
ERIC MATHEWSON: Your freedom of speech rights and the FEC laws surrounding an independent expenditure do not limit you in how much money you can spend and your ability to broadcast a message.
So as long as I or VoterVoter.com file the complex paperwork, I can make an ad and just pay to run it as much as I want? How 'bout this one?
THE COMMERCIAL PLAYS: The Senator should be ashamed of himself. And if you vote for him, you should be ashamed too.
MATHEWSON: We would be willing to present a controversial ad to a television station and see whether or not they are willing to run it.
And therein lies the catch. While I could theoretically get that ad on the air for just $175 in say Erie, Penn., TV stations could turn down my ad, since I'm not a registered federal candidate for office. And so, says Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group:
EVAN TRACEY :The party that will have the most control over how much of this advertising we see in this election cycle will ultimately be the television stations themselves.
But VoterVoter is owned by ad software company Wide Orbit, which does business with 950 TV stations across the country. It hopes that will help get the ads on the air. VoterVoter plans to make its money with a standard 15 percent commission.
In Washington, I'm Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.