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Sunday, December 09, 2007

NBC Reverses Decision on Freedom's Watch Ads

The other day we showed you the new Freedom's Watch ads, thanking the troops and urging Americans to thank the troops (both 30 second videos below) and NBC had rejected the ad and refused to air them on their stations.

The ad is part of a seven-figure newspaper and television campaign by Freedom's Watch, a conservative group that supports administration policy in Iraq.

NBC said it declined the ad, not because of its message, but because it invites viewers to go to Freedom's Watch's Web site, which advocates support for the war. NBC has a policy against airing controversial issue ads.

"Anybody in the world who would look at this ad would come away with nothing other than 'we should be thankful for their service,'" Freedom's Watch president Bradley Blakeman said.

The President of Freedom’s Watch, Brad Blakeman, issued a letter to John Kelly of NBC to express his disappointment that NBC would not air those ads and Newt Gingrich actually went on Fox News and called for a Boycott of NBC (YouTube video of that found here)

The letter that Brad Blakeman sent to NBC:

December 7, 2007
John Kelly
Senior Vice-President of NBC News Network Sales
30 Rockefeller Plaza
12th Floor
New York, NY 10112

Dear Mr. Kelly,

We understand that NBC, MSNBC and CNBC (the “Networks”) are refusing to sell advertising time to Freedom’s Watch (“FW”) to air a series of advertisements that thank our troops for their service and encourage the American public to show their appreciation for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of our country. It is our understanding that the purported basis for the denial is the Networks’ demand that FW remove reference on the advertisement to the FW website.

Given your past rejection of FW advertisements in August 2007 and your history of airing ads addressing controversial issues, as addressed in detail in my correspondence to you of August 28, 2007 (to which we have received no response), we are left to believe that your denial to FW is a subjective decision because the network officials disagree with FW. It is hard to comprehend how your demand to remove the FW website is anything but direct censorship of the positions taken by FW, particularly our support for the War on Terror. It is highly troubling that the Networks favor censorship over airing a magnanimous effort to thank the many men and women of our Armed Services who protect our freedoms every day.

FW has requested to purchase time on your networks to air advertisements thanking our American troops for their service and for spending time away from their family and friends this Holiday season. The FW website,, provides information to the American public about numerous ways to support our troops. For example, the FW website provides readers with links to Books for Soldiers, Adopt a Platoon and other worthy causes dedicated to assisting our troops during this Holiday season.

It is deeply troubling that the Networks appear to be rejecting an effort to air messages that thank our troops for their sacrifice and, in so doing, remind Americans of the sacrifices made by them this Holiday season. An effort to thank our troops should not be silenced by national broadcast and cable networks. Your denial begs the question of whether the Networks disagree with FW and, due to the level of your disagreement, you would prefer to censor FW’s effort to thank our troops and encourage an outpouring of support from the American people for them. A detailed explanation of your censorship appears to be very necessary.

If you refuse to air FW’s advertisement, we thus request an explanation of your basis in writing or station policy within two (2) days from the date above as time is of the essence.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request. Please respond to me at the above address.

Very Truly Yours,

Bradley A. Blakeman
President and CEO

Happily, NBC reversed their decision as reports today tell us, and has decided to allow those ads to run on their stations.

WASHINGTON (AP) — 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."

Freedom's Watch President Bradley A. Blakeman welcomed the decision. "We're actually very happy that NBC has agreed to change its position because it will only help the troops be properly thanked," he said.

Needless to say, some are not happy about this reversal, but I am going to put both 30 second videos below and you be the judge if they sound "political" or are just thanking the troops abroad.

As we celebrate the holidays, it is important to remember the sacrifices these brave men and women stationed throughout the world make each day to defend our freedom. Freedom’s Watch is honored to support their services and say ‘thank you.

You be the judge.