Network Commercials Rejection: A Different Approach?
CNN Rejects Trump Campaign Commercials; Disney Bans Netflix Advertising on Most of Its Networks
  • Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019

CNN last week rejected two commercials for President Donald Trump's presidential campaign on the grounds that the claims in the commercials were false.  

CNN rejected the first commercial, entitled "Biden Corruption," saying that the claims in it were "demonstrably false."  The commercial claims, "Joe Biden promised Ukraine a billion dollars if they fired the prosecutor investigating his son's company . . . but when President Trump asked the Ukraine to investigate corruption, the Democrats want to impeach him." CNN told The Daily Beast, "CNN is rejecting the ad, as it does not meet our advertising standards.  Specifically, in addition to disparaging CNN and its journalists, the ad makes assertions that have been proven demonstrably false by various news outlets, including CNN.”

Then, CNN rejected another commercial, entitled "Coup," saying that, "We cannot accept this ad as it contains statements of fact that are not true."  In the commercial, the campaign claimed that the impeachment inquiry is, "Nothing short of a coup and it must be stopped."  

This isn't the first time that television networks have rejected a Trump commercial.  Last year, NBC and Fox, along with CNN, rejected a commercial from the President about immigration. 

Historically, unlike commercial advertising, the network clearance departments haven't really vetted, in any significant way, political advertising for truth and taste concerns.  Not only is it sometimes difficult to judge the objective truth of a candidate's statements, networks didn't want to come across as taking sides by making calls about what statements or themes are acceptable.  But, as this election season continues to heat up, with perhaps a type of rhetoric that we just haven't seen before in a Presidential campaign, it appears that the networks are planning to take a different approach. 

Source: YouTube at

Source: YouTube at

Disney Bans Netflix Advertising on Most of Its Networks
According to media reports, Disney has said that it will no longer allow Netflix to advertise on most of its networks, including ABC and FX.  With Disney set to launch its own streaming service this fall, it said that it took the move due competitive concerns.  Since Netflix doesn't offer streaming sports, however, Disney reportedly said that it will still allow Netflix to advertise on ESPN.

While the major broadcast networks have historically not taken advertising that promotes competitors, non-advertiser supported subscription services like HBO and Netflix were not viewed as direct competitors.  Therefore, for the most part, the networks took their advertising.  

With the media wars continuing to heat up, and with more companies -- such as online retailers and wireless providers -- becoming content companies, the big question is whether this is a sign of things to come. What does this mean for advertisers and their agencies right now? At a minimum, they should consider whether they are promoting brands that may be seen as competitive in some way to the platforms on which they are planning to advertise.  If they are, they should make sure that those platforms will still accept their media buys. 

Managing Partner of Frankfurt Kurnit since 2010, Jeffrey A. Greenbaum is one of the country’s leading advertising lawyers. He is a partner in the Frankfurt Kurnit Klein + Selz's Advertising, Marketing & Public Relations Group and has extensive experience representing advertisers, advertising agencies, and media companies on advertising, branded entertainment, and intellectual property matters. He is also the Chairman of the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance.

This column presents a general discussion of legal issues, but is not legal advice and may not be applicable in all situations. Consult your attorney. To contact Jeffrey A. Greenbaum ESQ click here.

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Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

Founded more than 40 years ago as a boutique entertainment law firm in New York City, Frankfurt Kurnit now provides the highest quality legal services to clients in a wide range of industries and disciplines worldwide. With leading practices in advertising, entertainment, IP, technology, privacy, litigation, corporate, estate planning, charitable organizations, professional responsibility and other areas — Frankfurt Kurnit can help you face challenging legal and business issues and meet your goals with efficient and practical solutions.

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