Documents filed last week with ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox by media buyer Target Enterprises, Encino, Calif., on behalf of the Dole campaign, indicate ads for the Republican candidate could be on network TV as soon as next Monday.
Mr. Dole's initial advertising is expected to be drawn from biographical material prepared by his New Century Media Group for the campaign and his acceptance speech to the GOP convention Thursday night.
The Later, the Cheaper
Federal law guarantees political candidates the lowest unit advertising rate a network or station offers for a particular time period or show beginning 60 days before the election. Before then, candidates pay market rates, translating into upwards of a 30% increase in spending.
Dole campaign aides declined to disclose spending plans last week and Don Sipple, Dole's media adviser, cautioned that although the campaign has some "options" for the period before the political buying time starts, it will not necessarily follow through on those requests. Mr. Dole's campaign gets a $61.8 million check from the government at the end of this week's convention to finance the fall campaign.
The Clinton campaign has also started contacting TV networks but does not seem to have taken any action besides asking for pricing information.
Reform Party ready
While the two major party candidates have been shopping, the Perot Reform Committee is getting much closer to buying.
The Big 4 TV networks have been asked for availability of half-hour Sunday through Thursday prime-time slots for the eight weeks before the election and a half-hour on the Monday preceding the election.
The Reform Party's media buys are being handled by Media Partnership, Westport, Conn., a unit of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Western International Media. Media Partnership rose from the media department of defunct agency Ally & Gargano and is led by President Dawn Sibley.
Until now, Interpublic has had a policy of not getting involved in media buying for political candidates. But the company is skating around this by assigning the account to a subsidiary of Western.
Clay Mulford, the party's general counsel, said the request was made on behalf of either possible party candidate Ross Perot, known to favor a longer infomercial format, or Richard Lamm.
$31 Million for Reform Party
The Reform Party candidate will likely receive about $31 million in federal financing, and Mr. Mulford said that buying the half-hours in advance would allow the party to save money by advertising a schedule of talks rather than promoting individual talks.
Contributing: Chuck Ross.