Census Has Ad Money, But Not For 'Controversial Talk'

Attention broadcasters (and others) -- anyone wanting the chance to get in on a Census Bureau media buy needs to contact the bureau ASAP. But you can't have too much sex, or violence, be a reality show (unless it can be prescreened) or be a "controversial talk format," according to a questionnaire on the 2010 Census Web site.

The FCC's Office of Communications Business Opportunities put out an e-mail Friday saying that the Census Bureau is compiling a database of media outlets to publicize the census, including via paid media buys. (Anybody interested should e-mail Louise Harley, a program analyst in the census publicity office at Louise.M.Harley@census.gov.)

The census began buying time in the upfronts last May, but won't complete its national and local TV and radio scatter buys until Next month, according to its Web site.

The Census 2010 site outlines the program and includes a questionnaire for prospective applicants with some restrictions on the buys. They include what appear to be restrictions on placing the ads in environments with "excessive sex or violence" or ones that denigrate imams, ministers, nuns or rabbis.

It also identifies as a restricted environment "controversial talk formats." It does not go into further details, but it does say that among the requirements each vendor must meet in order "to be considered to receive business," is whether or not the programming meets the "content appropriateness guidelines."

The following, it says, are "restricted environments for all Census paid media and value-added opportunities":

--Excessive sex or violence

--Anti-U.S. government sentiments or supporting any violent acts toward the government or the American people, including but not limited to terrorism

--Questionable moral or ethical values, particularly dealing with bigotry or prejudice

--Denigration of any cultural group or faith-based communities (imams, ministers, nuns, priests, rabbis, etc.)

--Anticipated controversial programming that cannot be pre-screened (i.e. reality programming)

--Controversial talk formats

Calls to Harley for comment about the restrictions had not been returned at press time.

The paid media campaign will be in three phases: a January-February awareness/education phase, a March/April motivation phase and a May-June clean-up phase (follow-ups with nonresponders).

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.