CBS Censors Winning Ad

Posted by nicholas economos | Fri Jan 23rd 2004 10:33 a.m.

this is forwarded from

the petition is at:

nicholas economos

From: Eli Pariser,
Subject: CBS Censors Winning Ad
Date: January 22, 2004

Dear MoveOn member,

During this year's Super Bowl, you'll see ads sponsored by beer companies,
tobacco companies, and the Bush White House.(1) But you won't see the
winning ad in Voter Fund's Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest. CBS
refuses to air it.(2)

Meanwhile, the White House and Congressional Republicans are on the verge of
signing into law a deal which Senator John McCain (R-AZ) says is
custom-tailored for CBS and Fox,(3) allowing the two networks to grow much
bigger. CBS lobbied hard for this rule change; members across
the country lobbied against it; and now our ad has been rejected while the
White House ad will be played. It looks an awful lot like CBS is playing
politics with the right to free speech.

Of course, this is bigger than just the Voter Fund. People for
the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) submitted an ad that was also
rejected.(4) But this isn't even a progressive-vs.-conservative issue. The
airwaves are publicly owned, so we have a fundamental right to hear
viewpoints from across the ideological spectrum. That's why we need to let
CBS know that this practice of arbitrarily turning down ads that may be
"controversial" -- especially if they're controversial simply because they
take on the President -- just isn't right.

To watch the ad that CBS won't air and sign our petition to CBS, go to:

If you want to skip the ad and just sign the petition, go to:

We'll deliver the petition by email directly to CBS headquarters.

You also may want to let your local CBS affiliate know you're unhappy about
this decision.

Remember, a polite, friendly call will be most effective -- just explain
to them why you believe CBS' decision hurts our democracy.

CBS will claim that the ad is too controversial to air. But the message of
the ad is a simple statement of fact, supported by the President's own
figures. Compared with 2002's White House ad which claimed that drug users
are supporting terrorism,(5) it hardly even registers.

CBS will also claim that this decision isn't an indication of political
bias. But given the facts, that's hard to believe. CBS overwhelmingly
favored Republicans in its political giving, and the company spent millions
courting the White House to stop FCC reform.(6) According to a
well-respected study, CBS News was second only to Fox in failing to correct
common misconceptions about the Iraq war which benefited the Bush
Administration -- for example, the idea that Saddam Hussein was involved
with 9/11.(7)

This is not a partisan issue. It's critical that our media institutions be
fair and open to all speakers. CBS is setting a dangerous precedent, and
unless we speak up, the pattern may continue. Please call on CBS to air ads
which address issues of public importance today.

--Adam, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Laura, Noah, Peter, Wes, and Zack
The Team
January 22nd, 2003

P.S. Our friends at Free Press have put together a page which explains
simply how CBS and the FCC rule change are integrally linked. Check it out


1. "Who's Buying What At the Super Bowl," Ad Age, 1/20/04

2. CBS fax to Voter Fund, 1/14/04

3. "Democrats Fold on 39% TV Cap Fight", Broadcasting and Cable, 1/21/04

4. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

5. "New Media Campaign Stresses Link between Drugs and Terrorism," U.S.
Dept. of State

6. "CBS Television Network Soft Money Donations"

7. "Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War," PIPA/Knowledge Networks Poll
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