Press Release: CBS Statement on Advocacy Advertising
After receiving more than half a million calls and emails of protest, CBS Television Network finally issued a statement, defending its decision not to run MoveOn.org's 30-second "Child's Play" commercial during the Super Bowl. The ad was the winner of an online vote to determine which of thousands of entries would be put on television.
The CBS release cites the company's written policy: "CTN will sell time to political candidates, to those authorized by candidates to purchase time on their behalf and to political parties. CTN also sells time to groups supporting or opposing significant ballot propositions."
Of course, MoveOn people would say that their commercial fairly clearly opposes a specific ballot - the re-election of President George W. Bush, notwithstanding CBS's desire to prevent wave-making with administrations that hold the reigns of the highly-regulated broadcast industry.
The CBS press release, taking a clear swipe at MoveOn's successful campaign to stir protest against CBS, says, "In recent years, a cottage industry has arisen among groups that submit advocacy ads that they know will be rejected. They then resort to press releases and Internet diatribes about the rejection to reap considerable free media attention and financial contributions to support their cause. Editors and potential contributors beware."
A New York Times ad by MoveOn accused CBS of kowtowing to President Bush, whose $1 trillion in budget deficits are criticized in the MoveOn commercial. The ad notes "This is about more than just a commercial; it's about political censorship"
MoveOn's Times ad notes that CBS claims they simply don't air "controversial" ads during the Super Bowl. "Yet they had no problem with ads featuring serial killers, or nudists with their genitals digitally altered, when CBS last broadcast the Super Bowl in 2001."