From Jim Gilliam's blog archives
CBS refuses to air Moveon's Super Bowl ad

January 15, 2004 4:26 PM

Earlier this week, I mentioned that Moveon was trying to raise money to air the winner of the, now very controversial, Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest during the Super Bowl.

Today CBS refused to air the ad because they have a long-term policy to never air issue ads.

This isn't the first time a major network has refused to air left-leaning ads. Shortly before the war, both Moveon and Ben & Jerry's True Majority had anti-war ads axed by the major networks. Several years ago both ABC and CBS refused to air a pro-choice ad while having no problems running a pro-life ad. PETA has for years tried to get an ad on during the Super Bowl.

The right has had a few ads nixed as well. CNN refused to run pro-Israel ads and CBS turned down the Christian website iBelieve because they wanted to run them during CBS's Christian programming. CBS was concerned people would confuse the ads with the shows and encouraged iBelieve to run the ads some other time.

The "official policy" of 3 networks:

ABC: "We have a blanket policy against advocacy ads of any kind."

CBS: "Policy precludes accepting commercials which take an advocacy position on one side of a controversial issue of public importance."

NBC: "It pertained to a controversial issue which we prefer to handle in our news and public affairs programming."

But the best excuses came when CBS and NBC refused to run Adbusters' ad for "Buy Nothing Day" -- the anti-consumerism holiday that encourages people to "buy nothing" on the day after Thanksgiving, the biggest shopping day of the year.

NBC: The ad is "inimical to our legitimate business interests."

CBS: The ad is "in opposition to the current economic policy in the United States."

And that's what it boils down to, no? Gotta encourage the status quo or those big companies won't make enough money to employ all of us so we can keep buying all that stuff we need.

More from the archive in Advertising, Television.

CBS refuses to air Moveon's Super Bowl ad (01.15.2004)

Next Entry: Kerry's on fire in Iowa (01.16.2004)
Previous Entry: Braun to endorse Dean (01.14.2004)

Read the 9 comments.



Thu Jan 15 2004 6:54 PM

Jim Gilliam:


Thu Jan 15 2004 6:59 PM


Actually given the massive restrictions of free speach under McCain-Feingold the adds Moveon wanted to run could be illegal.

Fri Jan 16 2004 8:37 AM


Moveon is aware of the law, and what they are trying to do would not be illegal.

Fri Jan 16 2004 4:19 PM

Jim Gilliam:

The FEC said yesterday that they would look at new regulations that could put limits on what the so-called 527s (Moveon's Voter Fund is a 527 non profit) could do. In general, Republicans want the changes because they aren't raising as much money through their own 527s as the Democrats are.

Fri Jan 16 2004 6:09 PM

Jim Gilliam:

In this month's Adbusters there's an article about their attempt to get Fox News to air their Buy Nothing Day ad.

So up the ladder we went to Darlene Lieblich, executive director of broadcast standards. The Fox policy comes from the top she said - "The Fox uber-mensch." Product ads are okay, and advocacy ads are not. Case closed. "I'm sure we're not the only venue who has blocked you," she said. "I know. I've been kicking around this business for a long time." But she wouldn't let us go without a seed of hope. "Get yourself a federal lawsuit going and we might have some room to talk."

Sat Jan 17 2004 2:04 PM

Richard L:

The focus by Ad Busters and Moveon on getting ads placed nationally is a legitimate way to generate controversy and free coverage, and certainly the lawsuits should be filed. (I don't know why they haven't been already.) However, if they want ads to actually run, placing them locally on cable franchises, even in major markets, is the way to do it; ads can be run on dozens on networks this way, including local insertions on FOX News, CNN, etc. Over the air local stations would not be covered.
(I buy time commercially in LA and have had some success getting very small budget schedules on CBS radio locally over the objections of some station management.)

Sun Jan 18 2004 2:00 PM


As for 527s, all they have to do is change their legal status (and pay TAXES) they could do whatever they want.

"Gotta encourage the status quo or those big companies won't make enough money to employ all of us so we can keep buying all that stuff we need."

What a dumbass statement. More accurately it should say "Lets destroy the economy so the 8 lame ass democrat canidates have an issue to run on." Now that would be truth in advertising.

Mon Jan 19 2004 6:02 AM

roberto luigi:

Richard L is not alone in his thinking that one of the purposes of MoveOn and AdBusters advertisements is to "generate controversy". I respectively submit that Richard L and all others of the 'controversy' mindset step back and pause to consider these ads are aimed at "exposing the truth". Who would gain by framing the truth as generating controversy? Those who stand to lose the most, those in the power structure. Think towards a positive way of life, act with consideration of others, and you will live free.

peace&pizza -roberto

Mon Jan 19 2004 8:00 AM

Jim Gilliam
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