NBC Affiliate Rejects Equality Ad, Blames NFL

February 2, 2009
A Los Angeles NBC affiliate says it did not air an equality ad featuring a gay couple and their children during Sunday's Super Bowl coverage because it was rejected by the NFL late Friday. Meanwhile, the ad did run during Super Bowl coverage on NBC affiliates in other parts of California. NBC's owned and operated affiliate KNBC refused to air the paid ad produced by GetToKnowUsFirst.org featuring a gay family and supporting marriage equality during Super Bowl programming, says the groups project organizer John Ireland. According to Ireland, KNBC stated that it had shown the ad to the NFL legal department, which rejected it for being “advocacy,” a category they claim to exclude.  Despite this policy, however, other advocacy ads aired multiple times throughout the day’s NFL-controlled programming. The rejected 30-second ad features two married African American men raising five children ages 6 to 25.  Among the advocacy ads which did air on KNBC were PSAs for TobaccoFreeCA.org and DontBeAnAsterisk.org , an anti-steroids advocacy campaign. Ireland said, “We bought ads before, during and after the Super Bowl in ten markets across California. We planned this buy weeks in advance and heard late Friday that the NFL rejected our ads [in Los Angeles] because they violate the NFL’s ‘no advocacy’ policy. I was truly stunned while watching the programming, to see that they had selectively blocked our ads, while allowing other advocacy ads to air.” Keith Fisher, CEO of New and Improved Media, the ad agency for GetToKnowUsFirst.org, explained the chain of events.  He said, “Late Friday afternoon, KNBC told us they had shown it to the NFL Legal Department and that it was rejected because it was ‘advocacy.’  Clearly, the other ads they ran meet anyone’s definition of advocacy.” “We are disappointed that this ad couldn’t reach an audience with images of our families during one of the most watched programming events of the year,” said Neil G. Giuliano, president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “GLAAD is calling on KNBC to meet with GLAAD and GetToKnowUsFirst.org to discuss why this message would be rejected and to remedy this situation.” A series of ads featuring gay and lesbian families were produced for GetToKnowUsFirst.org by the non-profit organization POWER UP.  Gina Levy, who directed the PSAs, expressed her anger that the ad buy was blocked. "Marriage Equality is a civil rights issue. As a straight woman, I know this affects all of us, not just people who happen to be gay," said Levy. "It is important for us all to get to know these families.  It's a shame that's not going to happen today." The rejected ad can be seen at GetToKnowUsFirst.org.