Thursday, January 28, 2010

The CBS Super Bowl Ad

As you probably know, CBS is going to air an ad by the conservative (and patriarchal) Focus on Family during the Super Bowl:

For years, CBS and other networks banned "advocacy" commercials from airing during the Super Bowl.

But CBS recently reversed its stance. A commercial that opposes abortion, featuring Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, is set to air in this year's big game. And some fans say they don't want to see these types of ads in the Super Bowl.

CBS reversed its stance without telling anyone. Whether this is in fact a stance reversal is not clear in any case, because:

In the past, CBS and other networks airing the game refused to run advocacy ads from groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the United Church of Christ and Some of these commercials lambasted the Bush-era U.S. deficit or spoke on the issue of gay rights.

Women's rights and abortion rights groups point out that long-standing ban — they want CBS to pull the Tebow ad. They also warn that CBS might alienate viewers by showing divisive commercials.

CBS approved the Focus on the Family commercial before making a statement about their new policy on advocacy ads. As the controversy over the ad grew louder over the past few days, CBS issued the new policy. The broadcaster now says it will accept advocacy ads that are produced "reasonably."

Note that word "reasonably." It offers a convenient out.

To understand why reproductive rights groups reacted by wanting the ad banned you need to know that the policy reversal was not advertised anywhere until the Tebow ad was accepted. It looked like CBS only accepted forced-birth ads.

The ad itself is not about forced-birth but about choice: the one Tim Tebow's mother made by going against the advice of her doctors. She had the right to make that choice, and the final outcome happened to be a happy one. But Focus on Family doesn't want women to have the right to choices in the future. That's the oddest thing about this ad.