Group Says NBC Refuses to Air Ads Thanking Troops Over Holidays
NBC has nixed holiday advertisements meant to thank troops for serving overseas in opposition to the inclusion of a non-profit's Web address.
The ads, paid for by the non-profit Freedom's Watch, are a simple thank you, the group says, with people shown paying gratitude to members of the military and the final frame showing the group's Web address:
Click here and here to view the ads that NBC won't air.
"Per my previous email, the www.freedomswatch.org website will have to be redacted from the commercials for approval. This comes from Alan Wurtzel and Rick Cotton," according to one of the notes.
Wurtzel also expressed general concerns that NBC has about people with "deep pockets" being able to buy up a great deal of advertising and affect public perception on any issue, solely because they have the money to do it.
Freedom's Watch President and CEO Bradley Blakeman told FOX on Friday that this is not the first time NBC has turned down his group's ads and believes it has a specific objection to his group's support for the War on Terror.
"NBC asked us to re-vamp our Web site. They wanted to censor us, and we said, 'No we're not going to be censored,'" Blakeman said, noting that the organization's Web site points to more than 20 other non-profit Web sites where readers can thank and support troops.
NBC also objected to using images including military uniforms and vehicles and asked for proof of government approval for the group's use of the images in its ads.
Freedom's Watch says it has never been questioned on that before and paid for the rights to use the images from an independent licensing company. E-mails provided to FOX show that NBC also might have objected to the ads on its in-house issue advertising policy.
UPDATE: NBC Decides To Run Conservative-Group Ad
NBC reversed course Saturday and decided to air a conservative group's television ad thanking U.S. troops.
The ad, by the group Freedom's Watch, asks viewers to remember the troops during the holiday season. NBC had refused to air the ad because it guides viewers to the Freedom's Watch Web site, which NBC said was too political.
But in a statement issued Saturday evening, NBC said:
"We have reviewed and changed our ad standards guidelines and made the decision that our policy will apply to content only and not to a referenced Web site. Based on these amended standards the Freedom's Watch ad will begin to run as early as Sunday."
NBC' head of standards and practices, Alan Wurtzel, notified Freedom's Watch's media consultant Saturday by e-mail, writing: "This will confirm that the Freedom's Watch spot is approved for air."
NBC initially said that airing the spot would violate the network's prohibition on controversial issue ads. Wurtzel, in an interview Friday with The Associated Press, said NBC found nothing wrong with the ad's content, but rather objected to the link to [the FreedomsWatch site] as too political.
The group's home page is critical of liberals and has a link to a page urging lawmakers not to "cut and run" from the war in Iraq. The home page also links to another Freedom's Watch page dedicated to ways to assist the troops and provides links to organizations that send care packages to soldiers.
News of NBC's initial rejection caused an angry reaction on the Internet. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, appearing on the Fox News Channel on Friday, called for a boycott of NBC.
Freedom's Watch, a group backed by wealthy Republican fundraisers, has emerged as one of the best-financed conservative groups. It seeks to be a vocal advocate of President Bush's current policy in Iraq.