This past summer we wrote here and here about the refusal of CNBC and MSNBC to run ads submitted by Freedom's Watch supporting the war. Now Freedom's Watch has submitted ads thanking the troops for airing by NBC et al. again, and they have declined because the ads mention Freedom Watch's Web site. Freedom's Watch has issued the following press release:Freedom’s Watch President, Bradley A. Blakeman, sent a letter to NBC Vice-President of News Network Sales, John Kelly, demanding an explanation of why NBC refuses to air the Freedom’s Watch holiday ads. The ads began running yesterday, December 6 and will continue running [on CNN and FOX News] up to December 21...
Here is the text of Blakeman's letter:December 7, 2007
Senior Vice-President of NBC News Network Sales
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
Dear Mr. Kelly,
We understand that NBC, MSNBC and CNBC (the “Networks”) are refusing to sell advertising time to Freedom’s Watch (“FW”) to air a series of advertisements that thank our troops for their service and encourage the American public to show their appreciation for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our country. It is our understanding that the purported basis for the denial is the Networks’ demand that FW remove reference on the advertisement to the FW website.
Given your past rejection of FW advertisements in August 2007 and your history of airing ads addressing controversial issues, as addressed in detail in my correspondence to you of August 28, 2007 (to which we have received no response), we are left to believe that your denial to FW is a subjective decision because the network officials disagree with FW. It is hard to comprehend how your demand to remove the FW website is anything but direct censorship of the positions taken by FW, particularly our support for the War on Terror. It is highly troubling that the Networks favor censorship over airing a magnanimous effort to thank the many men and women of our Armed Services who protect our freedoms every day.
FW has requested to purchase time on your networks to air advertisements thanking our American troops for their service and for spending time away from their family and friends this Holiday season. The FW website, www.freedomswatch.org, provides information to the American public about numerous ways to support our troops. For example, the FW website provides readers with links to Books for Soldiers, Adopt a Platoon and other worthy causes dedicated to assisting our troops during this Holiday season.
It is deeply troubling that the Networks appear to be rejecting an effort to air messages that thank our troops for their sacrifice and, in so doing, remind Americans of the sacrifices made by them this Holiday season. An effort to thank our troops should not be silenced by national broadcast and cable networks. Your denial begs the question of whether the Networks disagree with FW and, due to the level of your disagreement, you would prefer to censor FW’s effort to thank our troops and encourage an outpouring of support from the American people for them. A detailed explanation of your censorship appears to be very necessary.
If you refuse to air FW’s advertisement, we thus request an explanation of your basis in writing or station policy within two (2) days from the date above as time is of the essence.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this request. Please respond to me at the above address.
Very Truly Yours,
Bradley A. Blakeman
President and CEO
The ads can be seen by clicking on the link.
NBC Decides to Run Conservative-Group Ad
NBC reversed course Saturday and decided to air a conservative group's television ad thanking U.S. troops.
The ad, by the group Freedom's Watch, asks viewers to remember the troops during the holiday season. NBC had refused to air the ad because it guides viewers to the Freedom's Watch Web site, which NBC said was too political.
But in a statement issued Saturday evening, NBC said:
"We have reviewed and changed our ad standards guidelines and made the decision that our policy will apply to content only and not to a referenced Web site. Based on these amended standards the Freedom's Watch ad will begin to run as early as Sunday."
NBC' head of standards and practices, Alan Wurtzel, notified Freedom's Watch's media consultant Saturday by e-mail, writing: "This will confirm that the Freedom's Watch spot is approved for air."
NBC initially said that airing the spot would violate the network's prohibition on controversial issue ads. Wurtzel, in an interview Friday with The Associated Press, said NBC found nothing wrong with the ad's content, but rather objected to the link to http://www.FreedomsWatch.org, viewing the Web site as too political.
The group's home page is critical of liberals and has a link to a page urging lawmakers not to "cut and run" from the war in Iraq. The home page also links to another Freedom's Watch page dedicated to ways to assist the troops and provides links to organizations that send care packages to soldiers.
News of NBC's initial rejection caused an angry reaction on the Internet. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, appearing on the Fox News Channel on Friday, called for a boycott of NBC.
This would be unthinkable before the Internet.