TV Advocacy Commercials? Give Them All Equal Weight, If You Can
Of course, such phone calls would have had those groups' directors scratching their collective heads.
CBS has softened its restrictions when it come to advocacy ads -- now allowing the pro-life group Focus on the Family to buy a TV commercial in the Super Bowl. The ad features Florida State quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother discussing how she struggled with a decision over an abortion before Tim's birth.
CBS has rejected many advocacy ads in the past. But now it even allows some issue ads from Al Gore and T. Boone Pickens -- as well as advocacy messaging about health care -- to be bought in prime time.
What's next for CBS? I'm guessing with this thinking there should be some advocacy ads right smack in the core of CBS' sweet spot -- CBS News programming.
L. Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center, says CBS shouldn't cede to pressure groups looking to pull ads. In a statement, he said "It has been documented time and again that the broadcast networks are left wing in their news, editorial and entertainment decisions." He thinks this all brings balance.
But he's wrong. An advocacy commercial doesn't balance a news story. They are not equal. A news story is, hopefully, balanced to begin with. That's what good journalism is all about.
What is good balance in ads? In this case it would be another advocacy commercial -- say from Planned Parenthood ---running right next to the one from Focus on the Family. This would be similar to hearing a Presidential address following by the opposing party's opinion on the same day, at roughly the same time.
CBS wants to "ensure that all ads on all sides of an issue are appropriate for air." That's good thinking. Let's just get it in the same context -- or roughly around the same time.
Program commercials? Yes, if you want even weight for issues. Late in the third quarter of a close -- balanced -- game would be good.