Media Companies Made Millions From BP Oil Spill


Newspapers and television stations reaped a financial windfall from the BP oil spill — and continue to benefit as the company spends millions on advertising to repair its battered image following the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history.

BP spent $93.4 million on ads between April 1 and July 31, according to Politico [1]. That’s triple the amount from the same period one year ago. The information was included in a letter from House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Fla.) to Rep. Kathy Castor (D-Fla.).

BP began its flurry of ads shortly after the Deepwater Horizon explosion on April 20 and has continued to target national and local outlets seven weeks after the well was capped. Newspapers and TV stations have been the biggest beneficiaries.

Waxman’s letter, which came in response to a request from Castor, provided more details:

BP told the committee that they have increased advertising expenditures for a number of reasons, including to keep Gulf Coast residents informed of issues relating to the oil spill and recovery and to ensure transparency during the recovery process.

For the period covering April 2010 to the end of July 2010, BP spent $93,429,175 on advertising. This is more than three times the amount the company spent on advertising during the same period in 2009. BP’s increased spending was almost entirely targeted at national and local newspapers and magazines and national and local television advertising. A small portion of the increased spending was targeted at Internet advertising.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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