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Join the One-Minute Boycott of CBS

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  • Join the One-Minute Boycott of CBS

    The CBS networks still refuses to run our winning ad in the Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest during the Super Bowl. The non-partisan campaign to get CBS to air issue ads continues, but we're not going to let CBS's censorship stop us in the mean time. That's why we're spending over $1 million to air the ad in our swing states and nation-wide on other channels -- starting with two spots on CNN that will air during the Super Bowl half time.

    This Sunday, during the Super Bowl half time show, join us in changing channels on CBS. At 8:10pm and 8:35pm EST, switch over to CNN to watch "Child's Pay" on a channel which doesn't censor its ads. We'd like to keep a tally of the number of people who participate -- you can sign up here:

    The number of groups, individuals, and newspapers that have called on CBS to run our ad is remarkable. The National Organization for Women and the American Civil Liberties Union have asked their own members to call CBS. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) gave a powerful speech about CBS on the floor of the Senate, saying, "Maybe network executives at CBS are so afraid of political pressure from the right wing and their business advertisers who are in league with the right wing politics of America that they are afraid to put anything on the air that might in fact make things uncomfortable. If that is the case, it is time for CBS to announce the name of their network is the 'Conservative Broadcasting System' and come clean with American viewers."

    28 members of the House of Representatives wrote a letter to CBS which stated, "The choice not to run this paid advertisement appears to be part of a disturbing pattern on CBS's part to bow to the wishes of the Republican National Committee. We remember well CBS's remarkable decision this fall to self-censor at the direction of GOP pressure. The network shamefully cancelled a broadcast about former President Ronald Reagan which Republican partisans considered insufficiently flattering." Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote a separate letter to CBS urging them to reconsider their decision.

    Today, the L.A. Times printed an Op-Ed piece of ours which lays out the case against CBS's censorship. That's attached below. But the editorial pages of the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and many other papers came out in our favor as well. As the Globe wrote, "'s 30-second ad, which has aired on CNN, is a gentle yet powerful depiction of how hard today's children will have to work to pay off the country's mounting deficit. That's a vital message that might get lost in a year of campaign rhetoric, and it deserves a response from the White House in its own 30 seconds of imagery. America, sitting on the couch, junk food in hand, just might sit up and want to know more."

    Luckily, there are still some networks that do allow the free exchange of ideas. Please join the one-minute boycott: at Super Bowl halftime, switch to CNN and watch "Child's Pay," and let us know at:

    Thanks for all you do,
    --Adam, Carrie, Eli, James, Joan, Laura, Noah, Peter, Wes, and Zack
    The Team
    January 30th, 2003

    P.S. Here's the L.A. Times' Op-Ed piece, which ran in today's paper:

    One Thing That Won't Be Tackled on Sunday: Issues
    By Eli Pariser
    Campaigns Director, Voter Fund

    When the Super Bowl is beamed into living rooms around the world Sunday, you can expect to see TV spots hyping cars, beer, razor blades, three different erectile dysfunction cures, toilet paper and snack foods.

    The ads will be slick and clever, lavishly produced, brilliant in their marketing. Some, no doubt, will be sexually suggestive or violent. Most will cost $2 million to $3 million to produce and broadcast.

    But here's what you won't see: a single ad about the big issues that face our country today.

    Outrageous as it may sound, CBS has decided that ads selling erectile dysfunction medicines and toilet paper are appropriate for Americans, but serious discussion should be banned. An ad about our country, our war, our president, the state of our schools or the size of our budget deficit? That, in the eyes of CBS officialdom, would be too controversial.

    We know, because we tried. We thought that the Super Bowl, with 130 million viewers, would be a great place to get our message out. So we held a contest on the Internet to select the best ad we could possibly run. The ad we selected — from 1,500 submissions — shows children cleaning offices, washing dishes and hauling trash. It ends with the question: "Guess who's going to pay off President Bush's $1-trillion deficit?" (It's viewable at ).

    But even though we were willing to pony up the $1.6 million to pay for it, CBS refused to sell us the time, citing what it says is a 50-year-old policy prohibiting ads that take stands on controversial public policy issues.

    CBS claims its policy is designed to keep the Citibanks and Microsofts of the world from buying time to tell Americans how to think. "It is designed to prevent those with means to produce and purchase network advertising from having undue influence on 'controversial issues of public importance,' " the network said this week.

    Sounds fair, doesn't it? But what it really means is that if McDonald's buys an ad promoting its tasty Big Mac, no one can run an ad that says Big Macs are full of fat and unhealthful. Pfizer can run a spot saying it's "helping people in need" get medicine, but we can't air an ad saying that Pfizer lobbied to weaken the new Medicare bill to prop up drug prices. Halliburton has slick ads that stress its role supporting the troops in Iraq. But CBS would reject an ad that pointed to Halliburton's profiteering.

    The fewer issue ads run, the more time there is for ads with mud-wrestling women selling beer and leggy models peddling fast cars. CBS execs think Americans love mindless consumerism more than anything else and that it's their duty to pander to this.

    But with "fairness" doctrines no longer governing the airwaves and the media more concentrated each day, it's getting harder and harder to engage regular people in political discourse. Even the town square has been replaced, in most communities, by private malls, where politics is not encouraged.

    Instead of taking every opportunity to promote civic discussion, commercial broadcasters like CBS shrink away. The airwaves are, more than ever, private enterprises. And for that we pay a price: As public political speech becomes more difficult and infrequent, the public becomes less engaged in the policies, processes and laws that govern us.

    "Controversy" isn't the real problem. Network front offices love it when one group or another protests sexy babes in bikinis peddling beer brands, or violent video games in which the highest body count wins. That builds buzz.

    The CBS policy represents the triumph of corporate self-interest over the public interest. This is the same CBS, after all, that yanked the Ronald Reagan miniseries recently when Republican bigwigs complained. As Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) noted this week, "These are the same executives at CBS who successfully lobbied this Congress to change the FCC rules on TV station ownership to their corporate advantage." CBS simply would rather not risk offending powerful people in Washington who decide such critical regulatory matters.

    But try getting that issue into a 30-second spot for Super Bowl audiences.
    \"Cheer up, Frank. It\'s not the end of the world.\"
    (Moorcock, The English Assassin)

  • #2
    Falun Gong supporters hacked into Chinas state television and sent their own signal out maybe this would be a good way to get freedom of speech during your Super bowl. Be careful though - if you're caught you'll probably end up in Guantanamo Bay.
    :-) flamingo


    • #3
      Freedom of speech does not apply in this case. CBS is a private company who can air whatever ads they want. If the government told you you couldn't air the ad, that would be a free speech issue. I don't think people actually understand the 1st amendment. Its not an entitlement to get your views aired wherever you want! It is set up to prevent the government from arresting you for saying things they don't agree with.


      • #4
        I started watching the super bowel and I have to say it was one of the dullest spectacles I have ever witnessed. I yearned for a pirate broadcast to appear half way through but the closest we came to dissent was Janet Jackson having trouble with her costume. Media companies have too much power and they do stiffle freedom of expression. Those with money are allowed to express their opinion while those who don't have money get no access.
        :-) flamingo


        • #5
          MTV did the halftime show. They are indeed the epitome of dull. Look, the Super Bowl is all about money and corporations. If you don't like it, I suggest you do as i do, and just flip the channel during commercials or the halftime show. You don't have the right to air whatever commercial you want during a halftime show. Its a private business. You do have the right to not watch. You do have the right to organize boycotts or protest, as Catherine has suggested., but it is not a 1st Amendment issue. I am for you guys boycotting stuff like this, but I am against claiming that it is a 1st Amendment issue. The 1st Amendment only applies to the government stifling your free speech.


          • #6
            Yes I turned the super bowel off after a few minutes and didn't see the half time 'entertainment.' I'm not American so the first ammendment is irrelevant to me. I do however possess little money - therefore I consider the TV companies refusal to play the ads of associations funded in the main by people like me (with little money) to be a violation of our freedom of speech. Luckily we have the internet now so we don't have to rely on the TV companies to get our ideas to people.

            :-) flamingo


            • #7
              I never watch CBS anyway, ill gladly boycott it forever.


              • #8
                McTalbayne and others I applaud your not watching CBS and such stations. You're spending you're time reading and looking at other sources of information which are more stimulating and independant.

                Some people enjoy watching the football - and I watch our own version over here in Australia. We can watch the entertainment produced by the corporations but it is good to question what we are seeing at the same time. We can't escape the 'culture' around us - but we can react critically to it.

                I saw an Oliver Stone movie the other night (on commercial TV) all about the darker aspects of football - the injuries and the nastyness. It had a 'happy' ending of course. I quite enjoy many Oliver Stone movies - they're mainstream yet often have a bit of subversiveness in them. One of my favourite movies is Wall Street which is about yuppies, capitalism, unions, workers and family. It is quite a moral movie - the young yuppie ends up making the right decision.

                I can see problems with the idea of 'paid' advertising lobbying people toward a political decision.

                While I fully agree with the cause of the people wanting to put their ads on (the PETA and the anti-Bush people) - there's plenty of lobby groups whose ads would send me into a rage of fury! For instance I strongly support a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion - I can imagine that anti-abortion groups would take advantage of the advertising space and put heaps of their ads on TV. It would come down to which lobby groups had the most money and unfortunately the more conservative, pro- status quo groups would tend to have this resource in abundance.

                But then consider the hidden political content of all commercial advertising - each corporation is trying to increase their wealth and power by selling more of their products. It is a continuous advertisement of the 'virtues' of consumer capitalism. They never show the true facts of the product being advertised - for instance: who made it and what they were paid (some poor person working long hours in a vast factory somewhere either at home or overseas- they never get any credit for what they do). They never show the environmental effects of the product or whether the company has made profits from war.
                :-) flamingo


                • #9
                  I will never watch CBS again. It is the easiest thing I will ever do to support free speech.
                  "But I'm tryin', Ringo, I'm trying real hard to be the shepard."


                  • #10

                    Broadcasters are in a unique position to serve the public good, they are not private corporations that can do whatever the hell they like - they can be, and are, regulated and controlled.

                    Have you never heard of "equal time" and so forth?

                    "EQUAL TIME RULE"
                    U.S. Broadcasting Regulatory Rule


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by krunky

                      Broadcasters are in a unique position to serve the public good, they are not private corporations that can do whatever the hell they like - they can be, and are, regulated and controlled.

                      Have you never heard of "equal time" and so forth?

                      "EQUAL TIME RULE"
                      U.S. Broadcasting Regulatory Rule
                      Sure they are. Regulated by the gov't (FCC?). I think they bend the rules all the time. I may be wrong though... :?
                      When they had advanced together to meet on common
                      ground, then there was the clash of shields, of spears
                      and the fury of men cased in bronze; bossed shields met
                      each other and the din rose loud. Then there were
                      mingled the groaning and the crowing of men killed and
                      killing, and the ground ran with blood.

                      Homer, The Illiad


                      • #12
                        I'm with bluekachina. I've boycotted network TV completely for several years now. It's been pretty easy.