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Why won't ABC air that clean-energy ad?

ABC refused to air an ad from the Alliance for Climate Protection. How come?

By Blogger for The Christian Science Monitor / October 10, 2008

A screenshot from the Alliance for Climate Protection's "Repower America" ad. The Alliance says that ABC refused to air the ad, claiming that this shot of the Capitol violated their broadcast standards.


The Alliance for Climate Protection, a group founded by Al Gore, put together an ad touting the benefits of clean energy projects and attacking big oil companies for blocking their development. Have a look:

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The group says that they submitted the ad to ABC, paying $85,000 - $100,000 for the airtime. The plan was to have it air on Sept. 26, during 20/20. But that morning, the network rejected it.

In response, Cathy Zoi, the group's CEO, wrote a letter [.doc] to ABC-Disney honcho Anne Sweeney, defending their ad and blasting the network for running ads from fossil fuel companies:

This advertisement simply points out that the massive spending by oil companies on advertising and lobbying is a primary reason our nation hasn't switched to clean and renewable sources for our energy.  The assertions that our ad makes are factual, common sense and are needed in the national debate about our energy future.  Your viewers should not be denied the right to hear this point of view.
Your rejection is even more indefensible given the overwhelming number of misleading ads that the oil and coal industry have run on your network. This year alone, oil and coal companies and interests have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to convince the American people that they are focused on solving our energy and climate crises.  On its face, these assertions by oil and coal defy all reason.
In short, I am disappointed by the decision you have made regarding this ad.  I sincerely hope that you will reconsider this decision and air this important ad tonight.

ABC didn't. Instead they aired a different ad from the Alliance in that time slot.

The Alliance launched an email campaign Wednesday, urging supporters to petition ABC to reconsider their rejection. So far, more than 190,000 people have emailed the network.

But nowhere does the Alliance say what reasons the network gave for rejecting this particular ad. After all, ABC has other ads from the Alliance. Why did this particular ad get turned down?

I rang up ABC's Broadcast Standards & Practices department and got in touch with a spokeswoman, Julie Hoover, who said she couldn't really tell me much. "The situation is that ABC will not disclose the contents of its communications with its clients," she said. She then read a prepared statement: "All of our advertising is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the context of this particular ad was determined not to be acceptable per our policy on controversial issue advertising."

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