CBS Stands Behind Acceptance of Focus on Family Spot : says it will consider all “responsibly produced ads” for remaining slots in Super Bowl

By John Eggerton — Broadcasting & Cable, 1/26/2010 2:13:13 PM

CBS Tuesday (Jan. 26) stood behind its decision to take a Super Bowl ad from Focus on the Family that has drawn fire from reproductive choice organizations. The network said it does not reject advocacy ads out of hand, and added that it would consider “responsibly produced ads from all groups” for the “few” remaining spots in the broadcast.

“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 on the issue,” CBS said in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. “In fact, most media outlets have accepted advocacy ads for some time. At CBS, our standards and practices process continues to adhere to a process that ensures all ads — on all sides of an issue — are appropriate for air.

“We will continue to consider responsibly produced ads from all groups for the few remaining spots in Super Bowl XLIV,” the network said.

That came in response to the announcement that the Women’s Media Center, National Organization For Women and more than two dozen other groups have launched a campaign to pressure CBS into pulling a Super Bowl “pro-life” ad bought by Focus on the Family.

That campaign includes a letter it delivered to CBS today, according to a spokeswoman, and e-mails its members are sending today to CBS, the NFL, and advertisers in the game.

The letter calls on CBS to reject what the groups call an anti-choice ad that advances Focus on the Family’s Agenda.

They argue that CBS has rejected advocacy ads in the past, including from PETA, and the United Church of Christ.

The spot in question is expected to feature Florida Gators quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother talking about how she refused to have an abortion after she was advised to do so by doctors.

The NFL backed the CBS decision. “CBS standards and practices department approved the content of the ad as appropriate for the audience. We take no issue with CBS’ decision,” said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

A CBS spokesperson had told B&C’s Claire Atkinson last week that the network had vetted the spot’s script and did not expect to have any trouble with the video.

“It is not inflammatory or divisive,” a CBS exec told Atkinson last week.

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