CBS Defends MoveOn Ad Refusal

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CBS is defending its refusal to take an anti-Bush Super Bowl spot from liberal group MoveOn.org, saying the ad violates its policy against advocacy advertising.

CBS said its decades-old policy "is designed to prevent those with means to produce and purchase network advertising from having undue influence on ‘controversial issues of public importance.’"

The ad in question, titled "Child’s Play," depicts children laboring in jobs like a tire factory and a grocery store and questions, "Guess who is going to pay off President Bush’s $1 trillion deficit?"

It was selected as the winner of the organization’s "Bush in 30 seconds" contest. MoveOn.org charges that CBS and parent Viacom "are guilty of political favoritism" for rejecting the spot, and says that while CBS nixed its ad and an ad from People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, it is accepting a White House anti-drug ad.

But CBS dismissed the bias assertion, saying it has in the past rejected ads on "issues from gun control to abortion to the North American Free Trade Agreement."

In regards to its accepting spots with anti-drug and anti-smoking by minors messages, CBS said it is unaware of groups that advocate smoking and drug-taking, "so it is hard to understand how these laudable efforts would constitute "controversial issues."

CBS said its policies cover only network advertising and local CBS affiliates and O&Os are free to choose whether to take advocacy ads. That, CBS said, is "intended to promote and protect localism."

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