CBS Refuses Ad for Superbowl

Menstuff® has compiled the following information on CBS's refusal to run a commercial.

Get Some Exercise this Super Bowl Sunday

CBS Refuses to Air Ad During Super Bowl
An Up-date from Regarding CBS - 1/30/04
Fox Jumps on Board to Discredit Campaign

Get Some Exercise this Superbowl Sunday

Get up before 6:30pm/ET Sunday, February 1, 2004 and turn off your television, spend some quality time with your family, go to the park with friends and/or family, enjoy some communication time, especially if you were planning to watch the Super Bowl because you didn't have something better to do. It's probably not going to be one of the more memorable Super Bowls, but even if it's anywhere near what all the hype is trying to make it, watching it contributes to a corporate belief that television networks can do anything they want, can manipulate news or surpress it, and present only one point of view, and that their financial support of the current administration can buy them even more power over the restriction of free speech and access to information. You'll be glad you did. (Read the two stories below that prompted this recommendation.  Also check out our section on Obesity, which might add some impetus to the fire.

CBS Refuses to Air Ad During Superbowl

During this year's Super Bowl, you'll see ads (if you choose to watch the game) sponsored by beer companies, tobacco companies, and the Bush White House.(1) But you won't see the winning ad in Voter Fund's Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest. CBS (i.e., the Conservative Broadcast System) refuses to air it.(2)

Meanwhile, the White House is on the verge of signing into law a deal which Senator John McCain (R-AZ) says is custom-tailored for CBS and Fox (3) allowing the two networks to grow much bigger. CBS lobbied hard for this rule change; members across the country lobbied against it; and now our ad has been rejected while the White House ad will be played. It looks an awful lot like CBS is playing politics with the right to free speech.

Of course, this is bigger than just the Voter Fund. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) submitted an ad that was also rejected. (4) But this isn't even a progressive-vs.-conservative issue. The airwaves are publicly owned, so we have a fundamental right to hear viewpoints from across the ideological spectrum. That's why we need to let CBS know that this practice of arbitrarily turning down ads that may be "controversial" -- especially if they're controversial simply because they take on the President -- just isn't right.

To watch the ad that CBS won't air and sign the petition to CBS NOW! by clicking here:

(The CBS President is Les Moonves. A copy of the petition goes to Viacom CEO Sumner Redstone.) will deliver the petition by email directly to CBS headquarters.

You also may want to let your local CBS affiliate know you're unhappy about this decision. We've attached a list of the CBS affiliates in California at the bottom. Remember, a polite, friendly call will be most effective -- just explain to them why you believe CBS' decision hurts our democracy.

CBS will claim that the ad is too controversial to air. But the message of the ad is a simple statement of fact, supported by the President's own figures. Compared with 2002's White House ad which claimed that drug users are supporting terrorism (5) it hardly even registers.

CBS will also claim that this decision isn't an indication of political bias. But given the facts, that's hard to believe. CBS overwhelmingly favored Republicans in its political giving, and the company spent millions courting the White House to stop FCC reform.(6) According to a well-respected study, CBS News was second only to Fox in failing to correct common misconceptions about the Iraq war which benefited the Bush Administration -- for example, the idea that Saddam Hussein was involved with 9/11. (7)

This is not a partisan issue. It's critical that our media institutions be fair and open to all speakers. CBS is setting a dangerous precedent, and unless we speak up, the pattern may continue. Please call on CBS to air ads which address issues of public importance today.

P.S. Our friends at Free Press have put together a page which explains simply how CBS and the FCC rule change are integrally linked. Check it out at:

Here are the CBS affiliates in California:

KCBS-TV, Los Angeles: (323) 460-3000
KFMB-TV, San Diego: (858) 571-8888
KPSP-TV, Thousand Palms: (760) 343-5700
KBAK-TV, Bakersfield: (661) 327-7955
KCOY-TV, Santa Maria: (805) 925-1200
KGPE-TV, Fresno: (559) 222-2411
KION-TV, Salinas: (831) 784-1702
KPIX-TV, San Francisco: (415) 362-5550
KVIQ-TV, Eureka: (707) 443-3061
KOVR-TV, West Sacramento: (916) 374-1313
KHSL-TV, Chico: (530) 342-0141


1. "Who's Buying What At the Super Bowl," Ad Age, 1/20/04
2. CBS fax to Voter Fund, 1/14/04
3. "Democrats Fold on 39% TV Cap Fight", Broadcasting and Cable, 1/21/04
4. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
5. "New Media Campaign Stresses Link between Drugs and Terrorism," U.S. Dept. of State
6. "CBS Television Network Soft Money Donations,"
7. "Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War," PIPA/Knowledge Networks Poll


Alternative Television Schedule on Super Bowl Sunday

CBS is trying it's best to control your mind. Prior to the "Big Game", the hype begins more than seven hours prior to the 6:25pm/ET kickoff. Nichelodeon Takes Over the Super Bowl at 11am/ET to look at the game from a kid's point of view (early indoctrination). MTV's TRL at the Super Bowl follows from Houston (Geeorge W. country). Up next, Phil Simms names his fifth All-Iron Team. Only then does the "official" pregame show begin (at 2pm/ET) with four hours - yes, four hours of reviews and previews. Then the game. But then, as promoted in TV Guide, and I quote "Super Bowl XXXVIII (CBS, 6pm/ET) Forget the game - it's all about Beyonce crooning the national anthem and Janet Jackson getting her halftime groove on." We agree.

An even better half-time activity: While CBS still refuses to run "Child's Pay" during the Super Bowl, that's not going to spot it from being aired during half-time. At 8:10 and 8:35pm/ET switch over to CNN to watch the ad CBS won't air. It's a Super Bowl worthy ad.

And, if that doesn't appeal to you, maybe the Lingerie Bowl in which underwear-clad models play tackle football on pay-per-view during halftime, might be entertaining.

Why not do something else on Sunday, February 1, 2004, as suggested above? Or, if you must sit in-doors all day and watch the boob-tube, skip the Super Bowl in favor of something else. Actually, you might start off on CBS at 9am/ET with Sunday Morning with Charles  Osgood followed by Face the Nation. Then at 11am/ET when the Bowl warm-up starts, switch to something like Meet the Press, the U.S. Grand Prix of Snowboarding, or the final round of the FBR Golf Open in Scottsdale. Batman Returns might be a choice, even Buffy the Vampire Slayer or That Darn Cat. There's Ebert & Roeper's Top10 movie list of best films in 2003, Access Hollywood, Back to the Future, even Mad Max. NBC will be running three consecutive hours of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, ABC has America's Funniest Videos and Fox will run "Independence Day". With Friends, The Practice and Larry King coming into the 9pm/ET slot followed by That '70s Show, there's more where that came from (check your local TV listings for exact shows and times in your area.) 

You say that the game isn't the big thing but that you really want to see the new million dollar televison commercials. You can go to for the most complete coverage of Super Bowl advertising. Or, if you can wait until after the game, you'll save three hours of that other stuff and get to see all of the commercials and even be able to vote for your personal favorite. However, don't expect any very memorable ones this year. The media spin has really made more of them than they deserve, from what we hear.

The point is, CBS is hoping to get 130,000,000 viewers to numb out for as long as possible this Sunday, so they can hype commercial costs and control what they want you to see even more in the future. Take the day off. Don't help line their pockets any more than they already are. Now, if you're from the Carolina's or New England, go ahead and watch the game. We'll understand.

An Up-date from Regarding CBS - 1/30/04

The CBS networks still refuses to run our winning ad in the Bush in 30 Seconds ad contest during the Super Bowl. The non-partisan campaign to get CBS to air issue ads continues, but we're not going to let CBS's censorship stop us in the mean time. That's why we're spending over $1 million to air the ad in our swing states and nation-wide on other channels -- starting with two spots on CNN that will air during the Super Bowl half time.

This Sunday, during the Super Bowl half time show, join us in changing channels on CBS. At 8:10pm and 8:35pm EST, switch over to CNN to watch "Child's Pay" on a channel which doesn't censor its ads. We'd like to keep a tally of the number of people who participate -- you can sign up here:

The number of groups, individuals, and newspapers that have called on CBS to run our ad is remarkable. The National Organization for Women and the American Civil Liberties Union have asked their own members to call CBS. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) gave a powerful speech about CBS on the floor of the Senate, saying, "Maybe network executives at CBS are so afraid of political pressure from the right wing and their business advertisers who are in league with the right wing politics of America that they are afraid to put anything on the air that might in fact make things uncomfortable. If that is the case, it is time for CBS to announce the name of their network is the 'Conservative Broadcasting System' and come clean with American viewers."

28 members of the House of Representatives wrote a letter to CBS which stated, "The choice not to run this paid advertisement appears to be part of a disturbing pattern on CBS's part to bow to the wishes of the Republican National Committee. We remember well CBS's remarkable decision this fall to self-censor at the direction of GOP pressure. The network shamefully cancelled a broadcast about former President Ronald Reagan which Republican partisans considered insufficiently flattering." Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote a separate letter to CBS urging them to reconsider their decision.

Today, the L.A. Times printed an Op-Ed piece of ours which lays out the case against CBS's censorship. That's below. But the editorial pages of the Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, and many other papers came out in our favor as well. As the Globe wrote, "'s 30-second ad, which has aired on CNN, is a gentle yet powerful depiction of how hard today's children will have to work to pay off the country's mounting deficit. That's a vital message that might get lost in a year of campaign rhetoric, and it deserves a response from the White House in its own 30 seconds of imagery. America, sitting on the couch, junk food in hand, just might sit up and want to know more."

Luckily, there are still some networks that do allow the free exchange of ideas. Please join the one-minute boycott: at Super Bowl halftime, switch to CNN and watch "Child's Pay," and let us know at:

P.S. Here's the L.A. Times' Op-Ed piece, which ran in today's paper:

One Thing That Won't Be Tackled on Sunday: Issues By Eli Pariser, Campaigns Director, Voter Fund,

When the Super Bowl is beamed into living rooms around the world Sunday, you can expect to see TV spots hyping cars, beer, razor blades, three different erectile dysfunction cures, toilet paper and snack foods.

The ads will be slick and clever, lavishly produced, brilliant in their marketing. Some, no doubt, will be sexually suggestive or violent. Most will cost $2 million to $3 million to produce and broadcast.

But here's what you won't see: a single ad about the big issues that face our country today.

Outrageous as it may sound, CBS has decided that ads selling erectile dysfunction medicines and toilet paper are appropriate for Americans, but serious discussion should be banned. An ad about our country, our war, our president, the state of our schools or the size of our budget deficit? That, in the eyes of CBS officialdom, would be too controversial.

We know, because we tried. We thought that the Super Bowl, with 130 million viewers, would be a great place to get our message out. So we held a contest on the Internet to select the best ad we could possibly run. The ad we selected — from 1,500 submissions — shows children cleaning offices, washing dishes and hauling trash. It ends with the question: "Guess who's going to pay off President Bush's $1-trillion deficit?" (It's viewable at ).

But even though we were willing to pony up the $1.6 million to pay for it, CBS refused to sell us the time, citing what it says is a 50-year-old policy prohibiting ads that take stands on controversial public policy issues.

CBS claims its policy is designed to keep the Citibanks and Microsofts of the world from buying time to tell Americans how to think. "It is designed to prevent those with means to produce and purchase network advertising from having undue influence on 'controversial issues of public importance,' " the network said this week.

Sounds fair, doesn't it? But what it really means is that if McDonald's buys an ad promoting its tasty Big Mac, no one can run an ad that says Big Macs are full of fat and unhealthful. Pfizer can run a spot saying it's "helping people in need" get medicine, but we can't air an ad saying that Pfizer lobbied to weaken the new Medicare bill to prop up drug prices. Halliburton has slick ads that stress its role supporting the troops in Iraq. But CBS would reject an ad that pointed to Halliburton's profiteering.

The fewer issue ads run, the more time there is for ads with mud-wrestling women selling beer and leggy models peddling fast cars. CBS execs think Americans love mindless consumerism more than anything else and that it's their duty to pander to this.

But with "fairness" doctrines no longer governing the airwaves and the media more concentrated each day, it's getting harder and harder to engage regular people in political discourse. Even the town square has been replaced, in most communities, by private malls, where politics is not encouraged.

Instead of taking every opportunity to promote civic discussion, commercial broadcasters like CBS shrink away. The airwaves are, more than ever, private enterprises. And for that we pay a price: As public political speech becomes more difficult and infrequent, the public becomes less engaged in the policies, processes and laws that govern us.

"Controversy" isn't the real problem. Network front offices love it when one group or another protests sexy babes in bikinis peddling beer brands, or violent video games in which the highest body count wins. That builds buzz.

The CBS policy represents the triumph of corporate self-interest over the public interest. This is the same CBS, after all, that yanked the Ronald Reagan miniseries recently when Republican bigwigs complained. As Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) noted this week, "These are the same executives at CBS who successfully lobbied this Congress to change the FCC rules on TV station ownership to their corporate advantage." CBS simply would rather not risk offending powerful people in Washington who decide such critical regulatory matters.

But try getting that issue into a 30-second spot for Super Bowl audiences.

Re: Fox News' flagship programs, The O'Reilly Factor. In a discussion of progressive websites, host Bill O'Reilly called "the most rank propaganda in the world." Fox News analyst Liz Trotta (who is the New York bureau chief of the Washington Times, the peculiar D.C. newspaper operated by Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church) responded:

"Well, how many people do you think -- who look at, know it's affiliated with the World Socialist Movement..."

This outrageous and false charge could only have been intended to discredit the work of and its members. Red-baiting of this sort is intended to scare people away from participating in democracy. It is akin to the tactics of the McCarthy era.

Contact Fox News to dismiss Liz Trotta for such an utter lack of journalistic scruples: Fox News Channel, 212.301.3000 or

And, imagine, this kind of media control isn't anything compared to how it might be if CBS and FOX get their way.

*    *    *

*    *    *

Contact Us | Disclaimer | Privacy Statement
Menstuff® Directory
Menstuff® is a registered trademark of Gordon Clay
©1996-2019, Gordon Clay