Pubdate: Thu, 22 Jan 2004
Source: Ad Week (US)
Copyright: 2004 Ad Week
Author: Sandy Brown


NEW YORK - Liberal political advocacy group MoveOn org has charged CBS 
Television and parent Viacom with political favoritism after the network 
agreed to run a White House anti-drug ad during the Super Bowl but has 
rejected the group's 30-second spot.

"It seems to us that CBS simply defers to those it fears or from whom it 
wants favors--in this case, the Bush White House," said Eli Pariser,'s campaign director, in a statement. "This is the same CBS that 
recently backed down when the Republican National Committee made a stink 
about its miniseries on former President Reagan and his family."

CBS denied the Voter Fund a slot in the Super Bowl earlier this 
month when it would not allow the winning spot from it's recent "Bush in 30 
Seconds" TV ad contest to air during the game. The spot, "Child's Play," 
focused on the federal deficit it claims the Bush administration has 
created [Adweek Online Jan. 16]. An ad from People for Ethical Treatment of 
Animals also was rejected by CBS.

CBS said it has a policy not to run advocacy ads, and considers's charge a tactic to gain free publicity. "Our policy is 
long-standing and clear," said a CBS representative. "We do not run 
contentious messages that are clearly devisive. I'd like to know who's for 
drug abuse? There are advocacy groups that are coming up with fairly new 
and innovative ways to do the same thing [and] get themselves free publicity."

Tom Riley, a White House Office of National Drug Control Policy 
representative, called's charge of political favoritism "absurd."

"CBS has a stated and long-standing policy about accepting ads on 
contentious issues," Riley said. "As far as our anti-drug ads are 
concerned, who, exactly, would the 'other side' be? People who want teens 
to do drugs? Or people who don't want parents to talk to their teens about 
drugs. Who is that constituency? Or more specifically, who is willing to be 
identified in public as that constituency?"

Riley continued, "It is understandable, if pathetic, that pro-drug 
organizations would oppose these messages. In the long run, their goals 
depend on more people using drugs. But it is particularly sad to see other 
organizations attempt to block these public health messages merely to 
further their own political agenda."
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