Call on CBS to Explain Super Bowl Advertising Decision

GLAAD joined the United Church of Christ in expressing concern about CBS’s decision to accept a Focus on the Family advertisement for broadcast during the nationally televised Super Bowl on Sunday, February 7, after having refused ads in 2004 from the United Church of Christ focusing on the church’s commitment to inclusion.

Additional information on the issue, including details on Focus on the Family’s ad, can be found in this Associated Press report:

“CBS’s decision to run a Focus on the Family ad during this year’s Super Bowl can’t and shouldn’t be considered in a vacuum,” said GLAAD Senior Director of Media Programs Rashad Robinson. “CBS spent years denying a platform to an LGBT-inclusive church that wanted to share a message of inclusion with a national audience. Now, when it happens to be financially inconvenient for CBS to hold to the standard it had previously imposed, the network’s expediency benefits a virulently anti-gay organization whose advocacy on these issues is the antithesis of that of the United Church of Christ.”

In 2004 CBS rejected ads submitted by the United Church of Christ as “unacceptable for broadcast” because the ads promoted LGBT equality. CBS’ explanation to the UCC stated that, “Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations, and the fact the Executive Branch [Bush Administration] has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks.”

CBS recently reversed its position, telling the Associated Press on Tuesday: “We have for some time moderated our approach to advocacy submissions after it became apparent that our stance did not reflect public sentiment or industry norms.” CBS also told the AP that, under its new policies, the UCC ads would have been accepted for airing.

“CBS’ about-face only underscores the arbitrary way the networks approach these decisions, and the result is a woeful lack of religious diversity in our nation’s media,” said Rev. J. Bennett Guess, Director of Communications for the United Church of Christ. “Such flip-flops only lead the public to believe that broadcasters own the airwaves when, in theory at least, they do not.”

Guess continued: “This April, in an attempt to reach newer audiences, the UCC does plan to unveil a new 30-second commercial with purchased spots on internet sites; however, our media-buying plan, at present, does not include national TV. But the larger issue of access remains, not just for the UCC but for all religious groups. When and if the UCC does return again to CBS or another network, will our distinctive religious viewpoint be heard or will there be yet another policy change?”

Additional information on the issue can be found in this Associated Press report:

Take Action Now: Please contact CBS and express your concerns about the integrity of the network’s decision-making process in allowing the anti-gay Focus on the Family to advertise on the network after having unfairly denied that ability to an LGBT-inclusive church like the United Church of Christ.