Tuesday, May 03, 2005

ABC's Double Standard

If you are a mainstream religious denomination like the United Church of Christ, the ABC television network will reject your good-spirited ad about tolerance and inclusion. If you are theocratic Christian Right organization they will not only accept your ad, they will air a program based on your organization's child-rearing dogma. "The show was all about Focus on the Family principles," according to Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family regarding the prime time ABC feature "Supernanny."

Max Blumenthal tells the whole sorry story, and suggests contacting the Federal Communications Commission to complain. A lively flurry of comments follows on his blog. Meanwhile the United Church News reports that "In an Associated Press story (May 2), Focus on the Family's president and CEO, Jim Daly, said the spots were an attempt by his organization to offer 'faith-based' advice on parenting, despite the fact that ABC executives have twice denied recent similar requests by the UCC to purchase network time as part of its national advertising campaign."

"Focus on the Family is clearly a religious organization," the Rev. Robert Chase, director of the UCC's communication ministry, told United Church News. 'Here's yet another illustration of how a particular narrow agenda makes up the rules as they go along, while another religious viewpoint cannot even purchase tim
e on the people's airwaves to proclaim an all-inclusive message."

"In December and March, the three major networks denied a purchasing request by the Cleveland-based UCC. NBC and CBS rejected the UCC's 30-second ads as 'too controversial.' ABC, however, sidestepped the fray by maintaining that it has a blanket policy against all religious advertising... Focus on the Family may be using a non-sectarian come-on, but what kind of assurances can ABC provide that Focus on the Family's follow-up literature is respectful of all faiths, respectful of non-traditional families, respectful of the non-traditional families, respectful of the one million kids that have same-sex couples as parents?"

A fair question -- to which I suspect ABC has no answer.

I also suspect they really don't care -- and I am not sure the best way to make them care. But perhaps as Talk to Action matures, and our commmunity grows, we will think of something.


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