TAMPA – A storm of controversy has engulfed the NBC television network after it refused to air a pro-life commercial during yesterday’s Super Bowl on the grounds that the ad involved "political advocacy or issues."
The ad celebrates human life from conception, and portrays President Barack Obama as an unborn child.
Created by the Chicago-based Catholic organization Fidelis, the commercial was originally broadcast on Black Entertainment Television (BET) on Inauguration Day. It is also posted on the internet website YouTube, and has received over 700,000 hits since January 20, the Washington Times reported.
According to UPI, the president of Fidelis, Brian Burch, said NBC originally responded to the group’s desire to run the spot with a proposal for a package costing $1.5 million to $1.8 million. However, Mr. Burch stated that after his members pledged "significant dollars" for the project, NBC changed its mind.
Called "Imagine Spot 1," the ad opens with an ultrasound of a child in utero set to violin music. After detailing the child’s future as bleak, the voice over announces the child will grow up to be the first African-American president of the United States as a photo of Obama flashes on the screen. It concludes with the tag line, "Life: Imagine the Potential."
Mr. Burch, who also serves as president of CatholicVote.org said there was "nothing objectionable in this positive, life-affirming advertisement," according to the EWTN Catholic Network website.
"How can a national television network choose to show sexual commercials and sitcoms which do nothing but sell and promote sex, but won’t air an ad that celebrates the beauty of life?," asked Maureen Rennie, President of Kitty Ward Travel in Springfield, Delaware County.
The inconsistency Ms. Rennie discussed was echoed by Mr. Burch. He noted that while NBC refused their ad for being advocacy-based, an ad from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), at first rejected because it depicted "a level of sexuality exceeding our standards," was nonetheless permitted to run if the animal-rights advocacy organization followed a detailed list of edits that would make the spot acceptable.
"NBC claims it doesn’t allow advocacy ads, but that’s not true. They were willing to air an ad by PETA if they would simply tone down the sexual suggestiveness," said Mr. Burch.
"The purpose of our new ad is to spread a message of hope about the potential of every human life, including the life of Barack Obama," said Burch. "We are now looking at alternative venues to run the ad over the next several weeks."
Kevin Kelly, Founder of the Loyal Opposition in Philadelphia, expressed his dissatisfaction with NBC. "As an owner of GE stock (which owns NBC), I’m not sure what’s more enraging: the fact that NBC Universal would put political ideology before shareholder value or that my GE shares have dropped from $40 to $12 in less than a year. Both confirm my belief that (NBC President and CEO) Jeff Zucker needs to find a new job," he stated.
The reaction from Pro-Life leaders was equally disdainful regarding NBC’s handling of the situation.
"My first reaction is sadness over how dramatically this illustrates the distorted state of our culture’s moral compass. We can be bombarded with dozens of tasteless ads applauding the wonders of Viagra, or suggestive ads linking romantic success to the purchase of a range of products, but NBC draws the line at celebrating a decision to choose life as ‘too controversial’," said Ted Meehan, President of the Reagan Caucus, a political grassroots organization in Pennsylvania.
Mr. Meehan thought the ad was "tastefully done," and offered an uncomplicated perspective on truth. "A single mother chose life for her baby, despite the fact that the child would face an array of challenges, including his father abandoning him. Despite those challenges, the child prospered and became our first African American President," Meehan stated. "Too often, similar circumstances are used as automatic justifications for ending life before birth. This has happened 50 million times since 1973. Should we not wonder how many Babe Ruths, Muhammed Alis, Oprah Winfreys, Bruce Springsteens, and Barack Obamas have been destroyed?," Mr. Meehan asked.
"NBC’s loyalty is not toward truth but toward the radical agenda of their friends at Planned Parenthood, Mr. Meehan stated. "Truth, it seems, is merely the latest victim of the abortion holocaust."
UPI also contributed to this story.
Chris Freind can be reached at [email protected]