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McCain ads back (and some never left)

From NBC's Carrie Dann
With the stroke of a memo to the press this morning, the McCain campaign recommenced its campaign activities, including its television advertising nationwide.

But when did the ads come back? 

According to one media buyer and advertising staff at two battleground state television stations, some stations were told yesterday afternoon that McCain's ads -- first suspended at 5:00 pm ET Wednesday afternoon -- could be recommenced starting today.

One rep firm says that the directive to put ads back on the air came at 1:00 pm ET yesterday, shortly after McCain landed in Washington and around the time that he arrived on Capitol Hill. Another station was cleared to start running the ads by "late morning" yesterday.

Those orders don't go directly from the campaign to TV stations. Instructions placed by the campaign go through an ad agency and then though the rep firms throughout the country that work with television stations to place advertisements on the air.

The recommencement may not be the same in all media markets. A sales executive at a Grands Rapids station says that he has received NO notice to put ads back on the air yet. (The already-paid-for spots that were pulled from the Michigan airwaves yesterday will air on Monday, he says.)

A television station in Richmond, VA, says that its order to take Mccain's ads off hold came today at 12:40 pm ET. Ironically, the station won't be able to get ads up until at least tomorrow because of tricky technical and legal issues around scheduling commercial time.

The hasty turnaround time for stations directed to start running the ads again indicates that the time that McCain was operatively OFF the air may have been very limited in some markets, if they were able to be off the air at all.

On Pittsburgh station WPXI, for example, ads ran continually through the week because of technicians' inability to kill ads already booked on computer logs.  They'll continue with scheduled ads -- without a pause.