During all my years in broadcasting, there was a rule that commercials for competing companies could not run adjacent to one another in a break (e.g. car dealers couldn’t follow car dealers). Optimally, they wouldn’t even run in the same cluster. If they did run back-to-back by accident, we’d hear from at least one of those sponsors, demanding a make-good.

But during election season, when all the avails were bought up by political campaigns, that was much more difficult (but not impossible) to handle. If there were two spots for candidates running for the same office, we’d separate them with an ad for another race, just as we would do for any other industry.

Apparently, those rules no longer exist at many local radio and TV stations, which this year are just jamming them all in with no regard for adjacencies. So — to choose one local congressional race here in the St. Louis suburbs as an example — we get thirty seconds in which Jill Schupp tells us why Ann Wagner is evil, followed immediately by the exact opposite.

This is the sort of content conflict that would have been stopped in the old days, when management (program director, sales manager, general manager) was paying attention to everything that went out over the air. But now, with managers overseeing clusters of a half-dozen stations in a single market, no attention is paid. As long as the checks clear.