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Text 4. Political Television Advertisements

Nowadays political advertising is everywhere. The amounts of money spent on political advertisements are staggering: hundreds of millions of dollars are poured into what has become the main means of political communication. In the right hands televised political advertising can be a powerful educating tool. The matter is that televised political ads can effectively bring new political ideas to people who have not previously experienced them and convey easily understandable information to the broadest possible audience.

In today's political campaigns such as election, PR and media play a larger role than ever before. The matter is that people in today's society are becoming more and more apathetic about voting and increasingly disinterested in spending time researching the various candidates and their platforms. That is why the electronic media of today is so vital for political candidates as it offers unprecedented opportunities to disseminate positive, accurate information about their platform policies. Unfortunately in today's society, this is the exception, not the rule.

Advertising agencies producing political commercials provide politicians with the opportunity to control the image seen on television fully and completely. Election campaign managers produce materials that journalists can easily use. Turning advertisements into news stories allows the candidates to set the campaign agenda and magnifies the effects of the ads considerably. A significant trend in today's political advertising is the increasing use of negative political advertisements. Sometimes candidates or parties use negative ads just from the beginning of the political campaign. Allegations of dishonesty and incompetence lay the seeds of controversy and scandal. Thus for journalists, it is a no-lose situation when candidates attack one another as the fight itself often becomes the story.

Negative advertising encourages people to vote not for the best candidate based upon the objective and positive information, but for the least evil one. Commercials are astronomically costly and the wealthiest candidate who has managed to sling the most mud at other candidates gets a chance to be elected by "reaching" the voters through these "marketing messages".

Negative campaigning may even keep people away from the polls. It may discourage the supporters of the candidate who is being attacked. At the same time the candidates unintentionally depress the turnout among their own supporters by using negative advertising. Generally, the candidates attack to expand the scope of the political conflict, to drag organised interests and media into the fray. The more intense the conflict is, the more people are drawn to it. The more the candidates attack, the more they make news. Voters, in their turn, are often most receptive to attack such advertisements especially when the candidate who is being attacked responds with a self-promotional campaign rather than with counterattacks. Even the candidates who in principle want to run wholly positive campaigns had to attack to protect themselves from the assaults of the opposition.

Answer the questions:

1. What do politicians use for their campaigns?

2. What are televised political ads used for?

3. What does the electronic media of today offer?

4. What opportunities do advertising agencies provide?

5. Are journalists against the situation when candidates attack one another?

6. What is the outcome of the negative advertising?

7. How can negative campaigning affect people?

8. Why do candidates attack each other during the election campaign?

9. When are voters most receptive to attack advertisements?

10. Is it possible today to run positive campaigns?


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