- The Washington Times - Friday, January 30, 2009

A popular pro-life video portraying President Obama as an unborn child has been rejected by NBC-TV as an ad during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

“Imagine Spot 1,” a YouTube video that has amassed more than 700,000 hits since its Jan. 2O premiere on Black Entertainment Television, was submitted earlier this week to NBC by Fidelis, a Chicago-based Catholic organization. Its subsidiary, CatholicVote.org, runs the 30-second spot on its Web site.

Brian Burch, president of Fidelis, said NBC originally responded with a proposal for a package including ads on NBC-owned or operated stations in the country’s top 10 markets plus an additional four cities for a price tag of $1.5 million to $1.8 million. The immensely popular football game is known for the unusual and trendy kinds of ads it attracts.

“We put out the call to our members and large pro-life benefactors who told us they would put up significant dollars to make this happen,” Mr. Burch said. “I was told the ad was approved and then there were a number of attorneys working on it. Then I was told they didn’t want to run political or advocacy ads.”

An ad from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also was turned down. Mr. Burch questioned whether the same standards were applied to the PETA ad.

A statement posted on PETA.org attributed to NBC said the ad “depicts a level of sexuality exceeding our standards.” But a second note to PETA attributed to Victoria Morgan, NBC vice president for advertising standards, suggested eight “edits that need to be made” so the ad could run. PETA refused to comply.

“There´s no doubt that PETA is an advocacy group,” Mr. Burch said. “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.”

“And back in 1998, when NBC last aired the Super Bowl, Bill Clinton had an ad about the president’s initiative on race. That was political.”

Five NBC spokespersons did not respond to repeated calls by The Washington Times seeking comment.

The ad opens with an ultrasound of a child in utero, set to violin music.

“The child’s future is a broken home,” the caption reads. “He will be abandoned by his father. His single mother will struggle to raise him.”

As the music swells and an outline of a baby can clearly be seen, “Despite the hardships he will endure, this child will become,” the voice-over says as a photo of Mr. Obama in front of a cheering crowd flashes on the screen, “the first African-American president.”

As a final photo of the president appears, “Life. Imagine the Potential,” the caption concludes.

There is a history of ads being turned down for the Super Bowl, possibly TV’s most precious piece of advertising real estate.

A year ago, GoDaddy Group Inc., an Internet hosting company based in Scottsdale, Ariz., floated an ad showing supermodels in short skirts. Fox TV rejected the ad because the spot alluded to a slang name for a part of a woman’s anatomy.

In 2005, Fox also turned down ads from the Miller Brewing Co. attacking the St. Louis-based Anheuser-Busch Co.

In 2004, CBS turned down an election-year ad by the liberal political group Moveon.org that called attention to the federal deficit. The network also turned down a PETA ad that year that showed scantily clad women and suggested eating meat might lead to impotence. However, ads touting drugs for erectile dysfunction have run during the Super Bowl.

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