NBC Reverses Decision on Freedom's Watch Ads

NBC changed its ad-policy guidelines on issue advertising over the weekend and ran an ad from Freedom's Watch, a conservative group that was thanking the troops for their service.

NBC initially declined to run the ads, citing its policy against running controversial political ads and pointing to a link in the ad to the group's Web site.

"We have reviewed and changed our ad-standards guidelines and made the decision that our policy will apply to content only and not to a referenced Web site," the network said. "Based on these amended standards, the Freedom's Watch ad began airing Sunday (during Meet the Press)."

In a statement, Freedom's Watch president Bradley Blakeman said the group was glad that NBC "ultimately decided to do the right thing … Thanking our troops is not a political statement -- it is a patriotic one."

NBC approved the "thanking troops content," according to a source, but concluded that the link to the conservative site -- which billed itself as a "perpetual political operation" promoting conservative public policy -- turned the ad into an issue ad that the network has a policy against running. It will now look at associated Web sites on a case-by-case basis.

The Freedom's Watch ads are also scheduled to run on MSNBC and CNBC through Dec. 21.

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.