Wanted to share with you the ongoing problems folks at United Church of Christ (UCC) (a frequent client of my employer, Media Access Project), are having with getting an advertisement of their on the air. As some of you may recall, the United Church of Christ has found it difficult to buy air time for advertisements urging folks to come to church. Please note, that’s BUY airtime. UCC has not asked for a freebie public service announcement.
Apparently, the message that Jesus ministers to everyone regardless of whether they are mainstream or not is still too “controversial” for mainstream networks. Worse, and further proof of the power of consolidation to supress debate, the cable networks owned or affiliated with the broadcast networks have now joined in the black out of UCC’s controversial “God loves everyone” message. Even the Viacom gay and lesbian network has rejected the advertisement (apparently a church that actually welcomes members of their target audience is too controversial).
For anyone who laughs at the idea that a “free market” will willingly forgo revenues just to block potentially unpopular speech, I advise you to look again. You can read a god op ed on the matter here.
Below I reprint a letter from the Rev. Bob Chase, the head of UCC’s Office of Communication, describing the situation.
As an Orthodox Jew, I am not myself a member of UCC. But I know what it is to be non-mainstream. Anyone who cares about ensuring a free and robust exchange of ideas in this country should ask why UCC can’t find anyone to sell it air time. Is it UCC’s activism on media ownership issues? Their “controversial” decision to appeal to non-mainstream (e.g., gay) parishoners?
And what makes you think the next “controversial” message about your favorite cause will get through?
Stay tuned . . . .