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Bush in 30 seconds ad rejected by Viacom.

Viacom's CBS today rejected a request from liberal group MoveOn to air a 30-second anti-President Bush ad during the Super Bowl, saying the spot violated the network's policy against running issue advocacy advertising.

A CBS spokesman said the decision against broadcasting the spot had nothing to do with either the Super Bowl or the ad's specific issue but was because the network has had a long-term policy not to air issue ads anywhere on the network.

Are anti smoking ads 'issues' by the way? Just wondering. How about anti-terrorism ads? Is that an 'issue advocacy advertising'? Don't litter? Is that 'advocacy advertising'? Whats an issue? Someone help me out here....

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caffeinegoddess's picture

I'm not sure. What about political ads? I can't believe that CBS doesn't air *any* of them, especially during this time of year (before primaries). I'm guessing that anti-smoking and the like aren't "issues" though because Phillip Morris USA will be airing one :30 anti-smoking/corporate responsibility spot, the American Legacy Foundation will have one :30 anti-smoking spot, as well as the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy with one :30 (by O&M) during the game and one post-game. Plus the NFL has two spots with one for the United Way (by Y&R) and another about volunteerism (done in-house). Not to mention that Viacom (who owns CBS) and the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation will be airing a pre-game spot on HIV/AIDS.
I'd love to see what their definition of "issue advertising" is. They've got me stumped.

caffeinegoddess's picture

Found this link which states that "In its pure form, issue advocacy advertising attempts to shape public opinion around specific public policies....Issue advocacy ads, however, are totally unregulated. Like "soft money" contributions to political parties, the amount individuals or groups can contribute to an issue advocacy campaign is unlimited. Corporations and labor unions may spend their general treasury money on ads. But unlike political parties, which must report all "soft money" donors, advocacy ad campaigns are not required to reveal the contributors' names."
I also found this link which says "There are two types of issue ads, those that advocate or oppose the election of a candidate (albeit implicitly), usually referred to as sham or candidate-centered issue ads, and those that seek to mobilize constituents, policy makers, or regulators in support of or in opposition to legislation or regulatory policy, called legislation-centered or pure issue ads. In this report, we look only at pure issue ads. The distinction is important because generally when people talk about issue ads in a public policy context they are talking about candidate-centered and not legislation-centered issue ads."
So wouldn't that include anti-smoking, anti-drug, etc ads? Color me confused.

brandonbarr's picture

I wonder if the ad had avoided Bush's name and the call to action if it might not have qualified. As is, it does "oppose the election of a candidate", clearly. Hence, it is an issue ad.

The second type your source cites, the type that "seek to mobilize constituents, policy makers, or regulators in support of or in opposition to legislation or regulatory policy" are about policy. In other words, an ad telling people not to smoke, get high, be a terrorist, etc isn't an issue ad. An ad telling them to vote for tougher smoking bans, drug laws, or anit-terrorism policies WOULD be.

All this mumbo jumbo still doesn't vindicate Viacom from turning down the PETA ad, which tells people not to eat meat, not vote for pro-vegetarian agendas.

b the legal eagle.

caffeinegoddess's picture

Ah-hah! thank you. I geuss that's sort of what I got from it, but was tripping over the line of telling people not to smoke and the influencing of policy thing. Seems like it can be a blurry line, in a way, but I get it now.
The PETA thing was also denied because the ad they wanted to air was "racy". "The PETA ad shows two scantily clad women snuggling up to a meat-eating pizza delivery man. "Meat can cause impotence," the screen reads after the rendezvous fails."

brandonbarr's picture

I was kidding 'bout the legal eagle part. lol. Thanks for the PETA ad info.

So two scantily clad women in a heteosexual situation is racy, but the homoerotic beer twins aren't? hmmmm....

caffeinegoddess's picture

just goes to show who's making the "decisions" ;)

caffeinegoddess's picture

Moveon.org has a petition letter on their site athttp://www.moveon.org/cbs/. They are telling the network, "CBS, don't play politics with free speech. If the White House can run an ad during Super Bowl, other groups should be allowed to run issue ads as well."
The petition states:"As one of the nation's largest media outlets and a respected source of news and entertainment, CBS has an obligation to be fair. By running an ad from the White House Office of Drug Policy while turning down ads by MoveOn.org Voter Fund and PETA, CBS appears to be acting out of political bias, censoring ads which express opinions it dislikes.
Please allow these ads to run during the Super Bowl. If you don't, you risk losing your credibility and the public's trust."