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Tom Coburn is a Big Fat Jerk


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Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Big Media Fears Inclusivity

Via Agonist, CBS and NBC television networks are refusing to run a 30-second television ad from the United Church of Christ because its all-inclusive welcome is too controversial.

And what is that *controversial* all inclusive message? The implied acceptance of gay and lesbian couples.

The full article (originally posted at UCC) is posted below.

This is getting ridiculous, people.

Update: Rob's Blog has some good discussion of this absurdity, as does (as usual) Kos.

Update II: Jeremy Armstrong at Due Diligence reports the ads will be shown on "ABC Family, AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, History, Nick@Nite, TBS, TNT, Travel and TV Land, among others." Armstrong has posted relevant links and has some good discussion going, especially concerning who exactly is at fault here - ?

This is my I will stop updating in a few moments and finally go eat a bowl of that nice chicken and sausage gumbo made by the nice Cajun lady who works at the store down the road Update: From Pudentilla:

Apparently our friends in the SCLM have so well internalized The Torturer in Chief's vision of Red Christianity that they knew without even asking Karl Rove, to try and spike the following message "The United Church of Christ. No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here."

The UCC thought to take advantage of the Advent season by running an ad campaign to reach out to folks alienated by what Reds have done with Jesus' message. We sent emails off to CBS (go to their site and click on the "feedback" link at the bottom of the page)and NBC. Then we decided we'd check out a UCC church this weekend. We have a relatively low threshold on this point. We ask, "could they be worse than the Roman Catholics?" and if the answer is no, we'll check 'em out. We plan to drop some dollars in the collection plate by way of saying thankyou for the welcome and to reward good behavior at the holiday season. When we get home, if we're not overwhelmed by Christian charity, we're going to watch some tv, identify some CBS and NBC advertisers and write to them explaining why we won't be buying their products this holiday season.


From the original article, UCC
CBS, NBC refuse to air church's television advertisement Cleveland | November 30

UCC Press Release - The CBS and NBC television networks are refusing to run a 30-second television ad from the United Church of Christ because its all-inclusive welcome has been deemed "too controversial."

The ad, part of the denomination's new, broad identity campaign set to begin airing nationwide on Dec. 1, states that -- like Jesus -- the United Church of Christ seeks to welcome all people, regardless of ability, age, race, economic circumstance or sexual orientation.

According to a written explanation from CBS, the United Church of Christ is being denied network access because its ad implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples -- among other minority constituencies -- and is, therefore, too "controversial."

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations," reads an explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."

Apparently, NBC has rejected the spot for similar reasons.

"It's ironic that after a political season awash in commercials based on fear and deception by both parties seen on all the major networks, an ad with a message of welcome and inclusion would be deemed too controversial," says the Rev. John H. Thomas, the UCC's general minister and president. "What's going on here?"

Negotiations between network officials and the church's representatives broke down today (Nov. 30), on the day before the ad campaign was set to begin airing nationwide on a combination of broadcast and cable networks. The ad has been accepted and will air on a number of networks, including ABC Family, AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, History, Nick@Nite, TBS, TNT, Travel and TV Land, among others.

The debut 30-second commercial features two muscle-bound "bouncers" standing guard outside a symbolic, picturesque church and selecting which persons are permitted to attend Sunday services. Written text interrupts the scene, announcing, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." A narrator then proclaims the United Church of Christ's commitment to Jesus' extravagant welcome: "No matter who you are, or where you are on life's journey, you are welcome here." (The ad can be viewed online at www.stillspeaking.com.)

In focus groups and test market research conducted before the campaign's national rollout, the UCC found that many people throughout the country feel alienated by churches. The television ad is geared toward those persons who, for whatever reason, have not felt welcomed or comfortable in a church.

"We find it disturbing that the networks in question seem to have no problem exploiting gay persons through mindless comedies or titillating dramas, but when it comes to a church's loving welcome of committed gay couples, that's where they draw the line," says the Rev. Robert Chase, director of the UCC's communication ministry.

CBS and NBC's refusal to air the ad "recalls the censorship of the 1950s and 1960s, when television station WLBT in Jackson, Miss., refused to show people of color on TV," says Ron Buford, coordinator for the United Church of Christ identity campaign. Buford, of African-American heritage, says, "In the 1960s, the issue was the mixing of the races. Today, the issue appears to be sexual orientation. In both cases, it's about exclusion."

In 1959, the Rev. Everett C. Parker organized United Church of Christ members to monitor the racist practices of WLBT. Like many southern television stations at the time, WLBT had imposed a news blackout on the growing civil rights movement, pulling the plug on then-attorney Thurgood Marshall. The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. implored the UCC to get involved in the media civil rights issues. Parker, founding director of the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, organized churches and won in federal court a ruling that the airwaves are public, not private property. That decision ultimately led to an increase in the number of persons of color in television studios and newsrooms. The suit clearly established that television and radio stations, as keepers of the public airwaves, must broadcast in the public interest.

"The consolidation of TV network ownership into the hands of a few executives today puts freedom of speech and freedom of religious expression in jeopardy," says former FCC Commissioner Gloria Tristani, currently managing director of the UCC's Office of Communication. "By refusing to air the United Church of Christ's paid commercial, CBS and NBC are stifling religious expression. They are denying the communities they serve a suitable access to differing ideas and expressions."

Adds Andrew Schwartzman, president and CEO of the not-for-profit Media Access Project in Washington, D.C., "This is an abuse of the broadcasters' duty to inform their viewers on issues of importance to the community. After all, these stations don't mind carrying shocking, attention-getting programming, because they do that every night."

The United Church of Christ's national offices -- located in Cleveland -- speak to, but not for, its nearly 6,000 congregations and 1.3 million members. In the spirit of the denomination's rich tradition, UCC congregations remain autonomous, but also strongly in covenant with each other and with the denomination's regional and national bodies.

1 Comments:

At 12:11 AM, Blogger Rob said...

It floored me that FOX (the right wing Christian Coalition mouthpiece of the US media) would run it, but not CBS. Go figure, eh?

 

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