The pro-life community is up in arms over NBC's decision to reject a pro-life Super Bowl ad depicting Obama as an unborn child while remaining open to a PETA Super Bowl ad as long as the clip's racy scenes were edited.
The pro-life Catholic group, Fidelis, which runs CatholicVote.org, recently learned that their 41-second ad won't be airing during NBC's Super Bowl broadcast this Sunday.
The ad, which attempts to tag Obama as the new face for the pro-life movement, taps into his personal story of being raised by a single mother.
The ad reads: "This child's future is a broken home. He will be abandoned by his father. His single mother will struggle to raise him. Despite the hardships he will endure...this child...will become...the 1st African-American President."
A final photo of Obama ends the ad with the tagline, "Life: Imagine the Potential."
After several days of negotiations, a NBC representative in Chicago told CatholicVote.org on Thursday that the network and the NFL were not interested in ads involving "political advocacy or issues."
Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org, the Web site shown at the end of the ad, wasn't pleased.
"There is nothing objectionable in this positive, life-affirming advertisement," protested Burch. "We show a beautiful ultrasound, something NBC's parent company GE has done for years."
"We congratulate Barack Obama on becoming the first African-American President. And we simply ask people to imagine the potential of every human life."
Burch and other members of the pro-life community are questioning why NBC rejected the pro-life ad citing political advocacy and issue-charged content but gave different reasons for nixing an ad by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), an advocacy group for animal rights.
"NBC told CatholicVote.org that they do not allow political or issue advocacy advertisements. But that's not what they told PETA," said Burch. "There's no doubt that PETA is an advocacy group. NBC rejected PETA's ad for another reason altogether."
PETA's ad, which shows lingerie-clad women enjoying vegetables in sexually suggestive poses, was initially turned down by NBC for displaying "a level of sexuality exceeding our standards." The ad declares: "Vegetarians have better sex."
Instead of a flat-out rejection, however, Victoria Morgan, VP of Advertising Standards at NBC, gave PETA a list of "edits that need to be made" for the spot to run during the Super Bowl.
"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. Our ad is far less provocative, and hardly controversial by comparison," remarked Burch.
Although CatholicVote.org ad won't be seen by the 100 million people anticipated to tune into NBC for the Super Bowl, it will appear on other avenues.
EWTN Global Catholic Network will air the pro-life ad during its television special "Faith Bowl II," which airs this Sunday, Feb. 1, beginning at 5:30 p.m. ET. The presentation analyzes the role that the Catholic/Christian faith plays in professional and collegiate sports and features Major League Baseball's Mark Loretta of the Los Angeles Dodgers and former professional soccer player Antonio Soave.
The pro-life ad became a hit on the internet, receiving over 700,000 views in just one week after it was first aired on BET in Chicago on Inauguration Day.
The highly touted ad is also being passed on through e-mail alerts by pro-life advocates, including American Family Association's Don Wildmon, who praised the ad's message as "extremely powerful."
Meanwhile, Morality in Media, a watchdog on indecency and pornography in the media has welcomed NBC's decision to drop the PETA ad, saying the ad would have been an "uninvited striptease" into millions of homes where viewers would include children.
"Few adults consider eating meat to be morally wrong; most adults are offended by or concerned about indecent content on TV," commented MIM president Robert Peters.
"The broadcast TV networks have a long history of broadcasting morally offensive programming, network promos, and sponsor ads into American homes at all hours, including the family hour. But at least on this occasion, NBC TV got it right when it said no to PETA smut."
In addition to the racy PETA ad, another Super Bowl ad that was denied a spot for its objectionable content was one advertising AshleyMadison.com, a match-maker site for married people looking to have affairs. The ad, which goes by the tagline "Life is short. Have an affair," must wait until after the Super Bowl for airtime.
Canadian-based television network CTV has rejected the Ashley Madison ad altogether.
"The Super Bowl attracts a broad audience composed of families, men and women, young and old," said Scott Henderson, vice-president of communications for CTV, in a statement. "An advertisement for a website promoting adultery does not meet the standards for the quality brands associated with this premiere television property and major social event."
Super Bowl XLIII will take place in Tampa Bay, Fla., where the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals will face off for the NFL championship game on Sunday. Kick-off is expected to begin at 6:28 p.m. ET.