By Jim Kuhnhenn - The Associated Press
Posted : Friday Dec 7, 2007 19:46:37 EST
NBC has rejected a TV ad by Freedom’s Watch, a conservative group that supports administration policy in Iraq, that asks viewers to remember and thank U.S. troops during the holiday season.
NBC said it declined to air the ad because it refers to the group’s Web site, which the network said was too political, not because of the ad’s message.
“Anybody in the world who would look at this ad would come away with nothing other than we should thankful for their service,” Freedom’s Watch president Brad Blakeman said.
The spot was to be part of a seven-figure campaign that includes newspaper ads and television commercials. The ads are to run on CNN and Fox News Channel and are running in various newspapers. The New York Times ran a full-page Freedom’s Watch ad Friday that said “Thank You!” and depicted a soldier reading a letter. The newspaper ad also contained the Web site address.
Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s head of standards and practices, said the network decided not to run the Freedom’s Watch ad because the group insisted that the spot contain the URL address of its Web site.
The Freedom’s Watch Web home page contains links for visitors to demonstrate their support for the troops. It also contains a welcoming message that states: “For too long, conservatives have lacked a permanent political presence to do battle with the radical special interests groups and their left-wing allies in government.”
“We have a policy that prohibits acceptance of advertising that deals with issues of public controversy,” Wurtzel said. “This particular ad, in and of itself, is fine. It thanks the troops for their action overseas. We asked them to eliminate a URL address where a person is asked to contact elected officials and told not to cut and run on the war on terror.”
NBC rejected a previous Freedom’s Watch ad that addressed funding for the troops.
“It’s a long-term policy, it goes back decades,” Wurtzel said of NBC’s stance of declining controversial advertising.
He suggested that Freedom’s Watch did not alter the ad in order to force NBC to reject it and thus get media attention.
“Candidly, some folks have found that you get more attention when an ad is not accepted,” he said.
Blakeman acknowledged that Freedom’s Watch wants viewers of the ad to visit its Web site and said NBC’s actions amounted to censorship.
Freedom’s Watch has emerged as one of the best-financed independent conservative groups in this election cycle.