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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
December 3, 2004

Two TV networks refuse to air churchs
all-welcome ad

Cleveland--Two television networks have refused to air a commercial saying that the United Church of Christ welcomes all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

CBS and NBC told the church November 30 that they would not air the commercial, calling it �too controversial.�

The ad, which is part of the Cleveland-based denomination�s multi-million dollar campaign to promote its �all-inclusive welcome� was set to begin December 1.

The ad will appear on other networks, mostly cable. These include ABC Family, AMC, BET, Discovery, Fox, Hallmark, History, Nick at Nite, TBS, TNT, Travel and TV Land.

The commercial features two �bouncers� standing guard outside a church, selecting which people are permitted to attend Sunday services. Among those turned away is a gay couple.

A title reads, �Jesus didn�t turn people away. Neither do we.� Then a narrator says, �No matter who you are, or where you are on life�s journey, you are welcome here.�

In a written statement to the church, CBS said the ad is controversial because it implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples and other minorities.

�Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations, and the fact that the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks.�

Both CBS and UPN are owned by Viacom. NBC is owned by General Electric.

�We find it disturbing that the networks in question seem to have no problem exploiting gay persons through mindless comedies or titillating dramas, but when it comes to a church�s loving welcome of committed gay couples, that�s where they draw the line,� said Rev. Robert Chase, who directs the 1.4 million member church�s communication ministry.

Andrew Schwartzman, who heads the Media Access Project in Washington said, �This is an abuse of the broadcasters� duty to inform their viewers on issues of importance to the community. After all, these stations don�t mind carrying shocking, attention-getting programming, because they do it every night.�

The commercial can be seen at www.stillspeaking.com.

 

 

 

 

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