Prop. 72 Yes and No Campaigns Put $7.5 Million into 4,400 TV Ads

Props. 61 and 67 hit the airwaves

Between September 13 and October 18, the pro and con sides of the health care ballot measures inundated Californians in the five largest media markets (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Fresno) with nearly 9,000 television ads at an estimated cost of $15.1 million. The biggest spenders were the “Yes” and “No” campaigns on Prop. 72, the referendum on the Health Insurance Act of 2003. Together, they accounted for 51% (4,415) of the ads aired and about half, or $7.5 million, of the total spending. The “Yes on Prop. 71” campaign accounted for another $7.5 million in ad expenditures.

The opponents of Prop. 72 sponsored 2,848 TV ads, nearly twice as many as the supporters, who paid to broadcast 1,567. Spending breaks out fairly equally between the two camps, with the “Yes” campaign investing an estimated $3.9 million and the “No” side $3.6 million. As the election draws closer, the Prop 72 pro and con TV ad campaigns likely will be in a dead heat as far as spending and placement. However, the campaigns seem to have used different approaches starting out. The “No on 72” side took to the air early and flooded the market from September 13 to October 4, running 2,383 ads. From October 4 to 18, it ran just 466 ads (16% of their total), with 152 of them running on October 18 alone. In contrast, the “Yes on 72” campaign didn’t launch its TV blitz until early October, placing more than 90% (1,435) of its spots after October 4.

Other health care measures are seeing only one side advertising on television:

Proponents of Prop. 71 (funding and regulating stem cell research) hit the airwaves in early September, spending $7.5 million to broadcast nearly 4,200 TV ads statewide.

Opponents of Prop. 67 (funding for uncompensated emergency services) started airing a “No on 67” TV ad campaign on October 18 with 16 spots in the Los Angeles market.

The proponents of Prop. 61 (funding for children’s hospital projects) launched their “Yes on 61” ad blitz on October 19.

Bob Stern, President of the Center for Governmental Studies, cautioned California voters to watch these ads “with a grain of salt. Read your ballot pamphlet and go to for complete pros and cons on all the health related measures.”

To view all the ads run in favor or against the health-related measures and to see their estimated costs, visit AdWatch at is a Web site sponsored by the California HealthCare Foundation and the Center for Governmental Studies. It provides non-partisan, detailed voter information about this November’s five health-related ballot propositions. TV spending and exposure data were compiled in the top five media markets in California (Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento, and Fresno) by TNS Media Intelligence/CMAG, a company that tracks television advertising across the country.

About the California Health Care Foundation

The California Health Care Foundation is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford.