Super Bowl ad stokes U.S. abortion controversy

Tue Jan 26, 2010 6:34pm EST
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By Ed Stoddard and Ben Klayman

DALLAS/CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. women's groups are urging television broadcaster CBS not to air an ad during next month's Super Bowl football championship final because they say it has a strident anti-abortion rights message.

The plans to air the ad, sponsored by a conservative Christian group called Focus on the Family, could see the polarizing issue of abortion rights dropped squarely in the midst of National Football League's premier event.

It would be the first time that Focus on the Family, a politically influential evangelical group founded by James Dobson, has bought air time during the Super Bowl -- the ultimate prize of the advertising world with 30-second spots going for up to $3.2 million.

The Women's Media Center and over 30 other liberal and women's advocacy groups sent a letter to CBS, the TV network to air the Super Bowl on February 7, saying: "... we urge you to immediately cancel this ad and refuse any other advertisement promoting Focus on the Family's agenda."

"We are calling on CBS to stick to their policy of not airing controversial advocacy ads ... and this is clearly a controversial ad," Jehmu Greene, the president of the Women's Media Center, told Reuters.

But CBS said it no longer had a blanket filter on advocacy submissions for ad slots. "We have for some time moderated our approach to advocacy submissions after it became apparent that our stance did not reflect public sentiment or industry norms on the issue," said CBS spokesman Dana McClintock.

An NFL spokesman said: "CBS standards and practices department approved the content of the ad as appropriate for the audience. We take no issue with CBS' decision."

Focus on the Family has said that 30-second spot will feature college football star Tim Tebow and his mother Pam.   Continued...