Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and his mother Pam will be featured in the 30-second ad with a "Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life" message, according to the religious group. While on a mission in the Philippines in 1987, Pam Tebow developed a condition that doctors feared would lead to a stillbirth -- and they advised her to have an abortion. She told her story to a Florida newspaper in 2007, saying faith gave her the will to continue.
A 2004 CBS policy document said the network doesn't take ads that advocate "viewpoints on controversial issues of public importance." Ads that take a position on an issue where "substantial elements of the community (are) in opposition to one another" will not be accepted.
Furthermore, ads that take an "implicit" position on a controversial matter could be rejected. The document, which CBS may have updated since 2004, is available via the Web site of the left-leaning Media Matters for America.
In an email Monday, a CBS spokeswoman said the network has not "made any announcement" about the Focus on the Family ad.
The 33-year-old Focus on the Family put out a statement Jan. 15 announcing it would be airing the ad. But it has not released details about the spot itself, except that the Tebows would be featured and share a "personal story." A spokeswoman for the organization said the player and his mother are not being compensated for their efforts.
Focus on the Family has advertised once before on network TV, backing a parenting initiative on a 2005 episode of ABC's "Supernanny."
The group received close to $140 million in contributions in 2008, the latest year where data is available. It did not, however, pay for the Super Bowl spot out of its normal media budget. Instead, a group of donors gave money specifically to air the ad.
The Focus on the Family spokeswoman said the chance to use the well-known Tebow in an ad that could reach over 100 million people was "unique." Tebow recently finished a career at the University of Florida, where he won two national championships and was known as a devoted Christian.
A Focus on the Family principle has Christians being "called to defend, protect, and value all human life," including the "preborn."
A Colorado Springs newspaper suggested that Focus on the Family was preparing to air the Super Bowl ad back in December. Marketers airing Super Bowl spots often encourage rumors to build interest, and Focus on the Family appears to have taken a page from that playbook.
The group stated that its CEO Jim Daly "chuckled at some of the 'will-they-or-won't-they?' speculation in the media about whether Focus would indeed create a Super Bowl ad." Daly said in a statement: "Now that the ad has been shot, we're excited to tell people it's coming, because the Tebows' story is such an important one for our culture to hear."
In 2004, citing its policy against accepting advocacy ads, CBS rejected a Super Bowl spot from liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org that criticized then-President Bush. In an editorial, The New York Times lamented the policy, but defended CBS against charges that it was selectively enforcing it and singling out MoveOn.
Over the weekend, liberal blog Daily Kos protested the network's decision to accept the Focus on the Family ad this year, suggesting the group has a "radical" agenda.