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Sierra Club
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet
RAW: Uncooked Truth, Beyond Belief 

Issue #271
Oct 10, 2008
Has ABC become Big Oil's BFF?
Josh Dorner

A couple months ago Al Gore's We Campaign shifted from warm and fuzzy commercials calling for action to a harder-edged spot demanding 100 percent clean energy within ten years. Then a couple weeks back the campaign came out with another, even edgier spot pointing the finger of blame directly (and correctly) at Big Oil and its lobbying largesse. 

On Wednesday, I received an email from the Alliance for Climate Protection’s Cathy Zoi telling me how ABC was refusing to run the ad because it contained a shot of the Capitol that somehow violated ABC's controversial issues policy. ABC offered a lame response that even after reading several times still makes no sense to me:

"Per our Guidelines, national buildings may be used in advertising provided the depictions are incidental to the advertiser's promotion of the product or service. Given the messages and themes of this commercial, the image of the Capital building is not incidental to this advertising. Please replace the image with one that is not of another national building or monument. Thank you."

ABC of course has absolutely no problem running ads from Big Oil, Big Coal and just about anybody else willing to push their dirty energy agenda. And ABC is the only network that has refused to run the ad -- MSNBC, CNN, Headlines News, Fox News, and CBS had no such difficulties.

I received another email from Zoi today telling me that over 150,000 people had written ABC to complain in just the past two days. I then took the opportunity to shoot off my own email to ABC. And their response? A lame form letter totally unrelated to the issue that basically said I shouldn't expect to hear back from them and reminded me that digital TV is coming in 2009. You'd think that after 150,000 complaints, they'd at least have a lame form letter at least vaguely related to the complaint.

Our friends at Grist poked ABC again and again for a better explanation of why a non-profit organization pushing for clean energy is controversial, but the richest corporations in the world pushing more of the same old dirty energy so they can rake in billions is perfectly fine. They didn't get a response, but the Guardian managed to cough one up:

"All of our advertising is reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and the context of this particular ad was determined not to be acceptable per our policy on controversial issue advertising."

Has ABC become Big Oil's BFF?


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