In 2016, political ad spending hit $1.1 billion and it is projected to hit $2.7 billion in 2020, according to Advertising Analytics. The majority of those dollars will be spent on digital video ads placed on a variety of websites including Google, YouTube and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, with the hope of swaying voters who remain undecided.
With eight days to go until the Georgia Senate runoff elections and with early voting underway, Democrats have begun closing in on what was previously a pronounced GOP ad spending advantage in the state.
With just over a week left in the contests, ad spending is up to nearly $540 million overall for the consequential elections that will determine which party has control of the Senate.
Republicans lead Democrats in total Georgia ad spending, including reservations since November 10 and through the runoff, by about $281.7 million to $256.6 million.
Democratic candidates have raised money almost entirely through the strength of grassroots donations. Jon Ossoff has spent over $100 million in ads, while Reverend Raphael Warnock is at nearly $90 million, compared to about $53.7 million spent by Senator Kelly Loeffler and $45.7 million for Senator David Perdue, the Republican candidates.
When it comes to spending by outside groups on behalf of the candidates for Senate, Republicans lead Democrats by nearly 3-to-1 — $180.5 million to $63.1 million.
Outside sponsors wasted little time to influence the two crucial contests after incumbent candidates Perdue and Loeffler failed to hit the 50 percent threshold on Election Day, setting up elections against their Democratic challengers, set to take place January 5.
Major outside GOP donors include American Crossroads, the Republican super PAC founded by Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie, the Senate Leadership Fund, a super PAC affiliated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Peachtree PAC, which, despite the name suggesting homegrown roots, is an arm of the Senate Leadership Fund.
American Crossroads has so far spent over $48 million on digital ads promoting the Republican candidates, while the Senate Leadership Fund has spent over $46.8 million and Peachtree PAC has spent over $42.8 million.
Meanwhile, the strength of the Democratic candidates’ fundraising and resulting ad budgets has diminished the GOP outside spending advantage. Warnock and Ossoff each brought in more than $100 million in a two-month period, setting a blistering fundraising pace in their quest to topple two Republican incumbents in Georgia.
FAA outlines new rules for drones, eases restrictions on flying drones at night
The Federal Aviation Administration issued new guidelines on Monday allowing drones to operate at night and over people. The change in rules will likely expand the use of the machines for commercial deliveries.
The new rules will also require remote identification technology so that the machines are identifiable from the ground. The FAA said this standard will address security concerns and make drones easier to track.
“These final rules carefully address safety, security and privacy concerns while advancing opportunities for innovation and utilization of drone technology,” said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao in a statement.
The changes, once in effect, will amend current policies that previously forbade drone operations over people and at night, unless the FAA granted a waiver.
Industry representatives have largely welcomed the FAA’s new rules. The Consumer Technology Association commended the FAA for releasing the “long-awaited final rules” in a statement, calling it a major milestones as drones become more integrated into national airspace.
“Properly implemented, these rules will enhance safety and security by allowing authorities to identify drones flying in their jurisdictions, while supporting expanded and beneficial uses of drones across the U.S.,” said Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy at CTA.
The new rules will become effective 60 days after publication in the Federal Register next month.
Free State Foundation recaps COVID relief bill’s broadband funding provisions
In a recent publication, the Free State Foundation’s Andrew Long recapped the broadband funding provisions included in the COVID-19 relief bill, signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday night. The $2.3 trillion coronavirus relief and government funding bill includes nearly $7 billion for broadband-related initiatives.
“Areas of focus include an emergency discount on broadband Internet access service for low-income and economically impacted households, funding to “rip and replace” insecure communications network equipment, broadband deployment grants for Tribal lands and unserved areas, additional money for telehealth, and much-needed funds for updated broadband coverage maps,” writes Long.
Long includes a statement by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai applauding “Congress for including a number of provisions that advance critical national priorities in communications policy” and saluting “Congressional leaders for working together in a bipartisan manner to reach agreement on this consequential legislation that will help protect our national security, close the digital divide, advance telehealth, and promote American leadership in 5G.”
FSF has long called for Congress to fund much needed broadband maps. FSF President Randolph May and Long noted in “Congress Should Fund Needed Broadband Maps This Session,” a recent Perspectives piece from FSF Scholars, that the money required to fund mapping efforts, until now, had not been appropriated.
FSF welcomed the legislation providing the Federal Communications Commission with the full $65 million amount requested by Chairman Pai.
Digital Literacy Training Needed for Optimal Telehealth Outcomes, Healthcare Reps Say
Digital literacy should be a priority to unlock telehealth’s potential, a telehealth event heard.
WASHINGTON, May 18, 2022 – Digital literacy training should be a priority for providers and consumers to improve telehealth outcomes, experts said at a conference Tuesday.
Digital literacy training will unlock telehealth’s potential to improve health outcomes, according to the event’s experts, including improving treatment for chronic diseases, improving patient-doctor relationships, and providing easier medical access for those without access to transportation.
Julia Skapik of the National Association of Community Health Centers said at the National Telehealth Conference on Tuesday that both patients and clinicians need to be trained on how to use tools that allow both parties to communicate remotely.
Skapik said her association has plans to implement training for providers to utilize tech opportunities, such as patient portals to best engage patients.
Ann Mond Johnson from the American Telemedicine Association agreed that telehealth will improve health outcomes by giving proper training to utilize the technology to offer the services.
The Federal Communications Commission announced its telehealth program in April 2021, which set aside $200 million for health institutions to provide remote care for patients.
W. Antoni Sinkfield: To Succeed in 21st Century, Communities Need to Get Connected Now
One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community and understand its problems.
One of the primary responsibilities of being a faith leader is to listen to your community, understand its problems, and provide support in challenging times. Particularly during the pandemic, it has been hard not to notice that my parishioners, and folks across the country, are divided into two groups: those with access to the internet, and those without.
In 2022, digital inclusion is still something we strive for in poor and rural areas throughout America. The lack of reliable internet access is an enormous disadvantage to so many people in all facets of their lives.
To fully participate in today’s society, all people, no matter who they are and no matter where they live, must have access to the internet. Think of the remote learning every child had to experience when schools were closed, and the challenges that families faced when they didn’t have access to a quality connection.
It’s a question of plain fairness.
Politicians have been talking for decades about bringing high-speed internet access to everyone, however many families continue to be left behind. More than 42 million people across the country lack affordable, reliable broadband connections, and as many as 120 million people who cannot get online are stuck with slow service that does not allow them to take advantage of everything the internet has to offer.
People of color are disproportionately affected by lack of broadband access
Every person in rural towns, urban neighborhoods, and tribal communities needs and deserves equal and full economic and educational opportunities. Studies show that students without home access to the internet are less likely to attend college and face a digital skills gap equivalent to three years’ worth of schooling. Small businesses, which are the cornerstone of rural and urban communities alike, need broadband to reach their customers and provide the service they expect.
Simply put, having access to the internet in every community is vital to its ability to succeed in the 21st century.
Fortunately, we have an opportunity to take major steps toward a solution. Last year, Congress passed President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provides $65 billion to expand broadband access and affordability. It is essential that we use this money to connect as many unserved and underserved communities as we can – and as quickly as we can.
Different places need different options to bridge the digital divide
As we bridge the digital divide, we must listen to those who have been left behind and make sure that we deploy solutions that fit their needs. Different places need different options – so it’s important that all voices are heard, and the technology that works best for the community is made readily available.
All people need access to broadband to learn, work, shop, pay bills, and get efficient healthcare.
When I talk to my parishioners, they speak about how much of their lives have transitioned online and are frustrated about not having reliable access. They do not care about the nuances of how we bring broadband to everyone. They just want to have it now – and understandably so.
This means that we must explore all solutions possible to provide high-speed broadband with the connection and support they need, when they need it, regardless of where they live.
Now is the time to meet those struggling where they are, stop dreaming about bridging the divide, and just get it done. Our government has a rare opportunity to fix an enormous problem, using money already approved for the purpose. Let’s make sure they do so in a manner that works for the communities they’re trying to help.
Rev. W. Antoni Sinkfield, Ph.D., serves as Associate Dean for Community Life at Wesley Theological Seminary, and is an ordained Itinerate Elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to email@example.com. The views expressed in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.
Biden Delivers Remarks on Free Broadband to Qualified Households
Biden compared the value of broadband to telephone service, and drew parallels to the historic effort to connect the country.
WASHINGTON, May 9, 2022 – President Joe Biden emphasized the essential nature of broadband during a public appearance on Monday.
Biden delivered remarks at the White House Rose Garden on the day’s earlier announcement that the federal government would work with both regional and national broadband providers to provide essentially free broadband to qualified households.
“Too many Americans simply cannot afford to get connected even if there is access to get connected. So, they go without high-speed internet, or they sacrifice other necessities in order to make it work,” Biden said.
“High-speed internet is not a luxury any longer – it is a necessity,” Biden said. “That is why the bipartisan infrastructure law included $65 billion to make sure we expand access to broadband internet in every region of the country.”
Biden also laid out the criteria for eligible households to take advantage of Affordable Connectivity Program, which when paired with the effort by ISPs to keep 100 Mbps download services under $30, provides free internet to consumers.
“If your household income is twice the federal poverty level or less – that is that’s about $55,000 per year for a family of four – or $27,000 for an individual – or a member of your household is on Medicaid or supplementary [social] security income or a number of other programs – you are eligible.”
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