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If you lived in the Boston/Manchester, N.H., media market, you saw more political ads on television in the just-completed election cycle than anyone else.

A report compiled last month for the Alliance for Better Campaigns by the Campaign Media Analysis Group found that 41,154 political ads were sold in the Boston/Manchester market during the 2002 cycle — even though that TV market is only the sixth biggest in the country. That dwarfed the runner-up, Atlanta, the ninth-biggest TV market in the country, where 28,340 ads were sold.

Rounding out the top 10: Dallas/Fort Worth (seventh-biggest market, 26,732 ads); Austin (54th, 26,619); Houston (11th, 25,804); Portland/Auburn, Maine (76th, 25,802); Minneapolis/St.Paul (14th, 24,764); Denver (18th, 23,906); Greenville, S.C./Asheville, N.C. (35th, 23,905); and Davenport, Iowa/Rock Island, Ill. (92nd, 23,810).

Not surprisingly, the most money spent on political advertising was in the three biggest media markets: New York ($81.8 million), Los Angeles ($71.2 million) and Chicago ($43.9 million).

According to an analysis by Merrill Lynch, television station revenue was 35 percent higher in September 2002 than it was in September 2001, and 20 percent higher in October than it was in October 2001 — increases directly attributable to the flood of political ads.

In all, candidates, parties and issue groups spent more than $1 billion on TV ads in 2002 — almost twice as much as four years earlier, the Alliance For Better Campaigns survey found.

Liberty for All. For the 10th anniversary of Religious Freedom Day, religious and civil rights leaders will meet on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial at noon today to call for religious liberty to be upheld during the 108th Congress.

Speakers will include the Rev. Welton Gaddy, president of The Interfaith Alliance. and Richard Foltin of the American Jewish Committee, among others.

National Religious Freedom Day marks the Virginia General Assembly’s adoption of Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom on Jan. 16, 1768.

— Josh Kurtz and Bree Hocking

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