The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

25 January 2004

Watching the gatekeeper squirm

Bruce notes that the television-network policy on so-called "advocacy ads" is inconsistent at best:

For years Adbusters has been trying to buy airtime on the major networks to promote their campaign for Buy Nothing Day, advocating a refrain from shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. They are consistently turned down because the networks say they don't run advocacy ads. Which is odd, because they do. Recently CBS announced that they would reject ads from both Moveon.org and PETA because they don't run controversial ads.

Tina Fey, at the SNL Weekend Update anchor desk, snickers:

CBS announced that it will not air Moveon.org's winning anti-Bush ad during the Super Bowl, saying they don't air so-called Issue Ads. Unless the issue is that girls are sluts for beer.

I'd say that this premise is at least as debatable as, say, the ongoing haranguing by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and apparently so would Bruce:

[D]uring the Super Bowl we will see three advocacy ads. One that points out the dangers of tobacco use, one that advocates the responsible use of alcohol and one that warns of of the dangers of marijuana abuse. That these ads are NOT considered controversial is a matter of debate. That these are issue ads is incontrovertible. The way in which CBS draws the line is disturbing.

If it's all about the money — and when, in network television, is it not all about the money? — the solution is simple: sell the ad slots to the highest bidder and be done with it. All advertising advocates something or other; that's the whole idea. CBS does no one a service by pretending that they're above political controversy.

Posted at 1:19 PM to Political Science Fiction


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Maybe CBS was trying to let them down easy. Perhaps it's just their way of saying "I'm washing my hair".

Posted by: Ravenwood at 9:56 PM on 25 January 2004

Here's a question to which I do not know the answer, but which might shed light on the matter:

In election-year football seasons, do broadcasters showing NFL games normally run campaign ads during the game telecasts?

Given the huge and politically diverse demographic for the broadcasts, there might be a reason to want to avoid showing political ads while the viewers are trying to enjoy the game.

That said, CBS's way of explaining itself is (surprise!) lame in he extreme.

Posted by: McGehee at 8:59 AM on 26 January 2004