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CBS and NBC refuse to air ads from the UCC

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  • roo7861
    I have never been prouder of my denomination! And all this publicity is free! James ******************************************************************** CBS,
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2004
      I have never been prouder of my denomination! And all this
      publicity is free!

      CBS, NBC refuse to air church's television advertisement

      United Church of Christ ad highlighting Jesus' extravagant welcome
      called 'too controversial'

      For immediate release
      Nov. 30, 2004

      CLEVELAND -- 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."

      Similarly, a rejection by NBC declared the spot "too controversial."

      "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

      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.
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