CBS rejects pair of Super Bowl ads
January 17, 2004
LOS ANGELES -- CBS has rejected two Super Bowl advertisements touting vegetarianism and bashing President George W. Bush because they violate its advocacy rules, the network said Friday.
The ad prepared by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals asserts that meat eating causes impotence, using two attractive women and an unlucky pizza deliveryman to make its point.
Meanwhile, the liberal online advocacy Web site MoveOn.org sought to place an ad that uses images of children working at adult jobs to criticize the federal budget deficit. The Super Bowl is traditionally the most-watched TV event of the year.
"We do not accept advertising on one side or the other of controversial public issues, partly because we don't think the debate ought to be controlled by people with deep pockets," said Martin Franks, CBS executive vice president.
CBS also covers these issues in a balanced way with its news department, Franks said.
The network's content decisions have been a hot topic since CBS canceled a miniseries about former President Ronald Reagan that conservatives said distorted his legacy.
Although MoveOn.org founder Wes Boyd said he had no evidence the ad was rejected because it was anti-Bush, "I worry that it's about ideology," he said.
Franks noted that CBS routinely rejects ads on both sides of controversial issues like abortion and gun control.
Some TV insiders believe organizations put forth ads they know will be rejected in the hope of attracting publicity, thereby attracting attention to their cause without having to pay for it.