Sunday, February 7, 2010

Memory Hole: TV Advertising Edition

Gosh, remember this?
CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays
Networks wont run church spot featuring gay couple; say ad runs contrary to company policies.

December 2, 2004: 9:47 AM EST
By Steve Hargreaves, CNN/Money Staff Writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The CBS and NBC networks have refused to run an ad by a liberal church promoting the acceptance of people regardless of sexual orientation because the networks believe the ad is advocacy advertising.

The 30-second spot, run by the United Church of Christ, features two muscle-bound bouncers standing outside a church, selecting people who could attend service and those who could not. Among those kept out are two males who appear to be a couple. Written text then appears saying, in part, "Jesus didn't turn people away, neither do we."

For those who don’t remember, the ad is here:

Apparently that message was too offensive to CBS five years ago. Now, they not only are airing a Focus on the Family ad about abortion, they actually worked with Focus on the Family to vet scripts and other ad content to ensure it would pass network muster:

[...]Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs-based conservative Christian group founded by Dr. James Dobson, says that it has actually been working closely with CBS executives for months on the ad's script.

"There were discussions about the specific wording of the spot," said Gary Schneeberger, spokesperson for Focus on the Family. "And we came to a compromise. To an agreement." Schneeberger declined to comment on exactly how CBS changed the ad's message.

CBS has said that in the last year, in an acknowledgment of "industry norms," it loosened previous restrictions on advocacy advertisements, accepting ads that pushed for health reform and environmental activism.

But pro-choice advocates complain the network didn't publicize the policy change and hasn't applied it consistently, citing a rejected Super Bowl ad from gay dating Web site According to Schneeberger, Focus on the Family was not aware of an explicit policy change inside the network, either. "It was only last week that they indicated that they changed any policy," he said.

"We've worked with [CBS] almost since the beginning," Schneeberger added. "Our senior vice presidents talked to CBS executives throughout the process. It was a very cordial, very professional, fruitful relationship."

Well isn’t that cozy. So apparently CBS has taken sides in the culture wars, deciding a progressive denomination’s message of GLBT tolerance is unacceptable, but a right-wing church organization’s message about abortion is suitable for airing during the Super Bowl.

Good to know.

It also sounds to me like CBS worked hard to get this Focus on the Family ad on the air and only after people pointed out their hypocrisy, did they invent this "policy change" excuse.

Of course I'm just speculating.