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Learning English - Words in the News
29 October, 2008 - Published 13:13 GMT
Obama's infomercial
Obama vs McCain

In the US, the Democratic Party presidential candidate, Barack Obama, is to run a half-hour advertisement on a range of American TV networks tonight. The extensive advertising effort will be followed by a joint rally with Bill Clinton in Florida. Justin Webb reports:

Listen to the story

It's not unheard of for American politicians to buy large chunks of television time. The maverick millionaire Ross Perot did it in 1992 and gained respectable audiences.

But, Barack Obama's blitz tonight is audacious. Only one of the major TV networks, ABC, is not running the half-hour film. The Fox network has arranged that the fifth game of the World Series baseball, one of America's biggest sporting events, will be delayed to accommodate the Obama broadcast.

The advertisement has been weeks in the making and Obama campaign will pay several million dollars for the right to have it shown. But the money is a drop in the ocean - they are taking in that sum almost every day.

John McCain cannot afford to put on such a show himself, the fact that he is using to his advantage. Mr McCain told supporters, 'when I am president no-one will delay the start of the World Series with an infomercial'.

Justin Webb, BBC News, Washington

Listen to the words

unheard of
something that has never happened before

large chunks
a lot of, many slots

someone who thinks and acts in an independent way, often behaving differently from what is expected from them

gained respectable audiences
many TV viewers watched the broadcast

here, an extensive advertising effort that is a high point in Obama's pre-election activity

bold, daring, fearless

been weeks in the making
taken several weeks to make

a drop in the ocean
here, a very small amount of money compared to the overall spending by the Democrats on this election campaign

here, amount of money

an advertisement which is like a normal TV programme because of its length and style; a presentation which presents a large amount of information to persuade to a point of view (the word is a portmanteau, or combination, of 'information + commercial')

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