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UCC ad stirs flap

On Dec. 9 the United Church of Christ filed two petitions with the Federal Communications Commission asking that one CBS and one NBC network owned-and-operated TV station in Miami be denied license renewals. The UCC claims the station failed to provide viewers "suitable access" to a full array of "social, political, esthetic, moral, and other ideas and experiences."

The petition followed a decision by NBC and CBS to deny ads of welcome in a UCC television campaign rolled out Dec. 1. NBC rejected the ad as "too controversial." CBS officials said it was too political in the context of the current national debate over a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

FCC guidelines state that local license challenges are the best way to hold network broadcasters accountable, UCC officials said. Gloria Tristani, a former FCC commissioner and managing director of the UCC Office of Communication Inc., said, "NBC and CBS and their stations must be accountable to the communities they are licensed to serve."

The ads, however, were to air on several NBC and CBS stations owned by Mission Broadcasting Inc. Its CEO Dennis Thatcher said the company would air the commercial without charge on its 14 stations because the ad is "a message to all people of faith that we are all equal in God's eyes."


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