On the same day that the NFL and the players’ union jointly announced that a bargaining session will be conducted on Saturday, word has emerged that CBS College Sports Network opted not to air an NFLPA-sponsored commercial aimed at building public support against a lockout. The message would have aired four times in a college all-star game for which the NFLPA is the naming sponsor.
“Once they saw it and realized it had a CBA-oriented message, they decided they wouldn’t air it,” NFLPA spokesman George Atallah told the Associated Press.
“We were told they didn’t want any part of it. We went back to them and said, ‘Why?’ And they said, ‘No,’ a second time,” Atallah said.
CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said an ad from the owners’ side wouldn’t have been accepted, either.
Of course, that’s easy for CBS to say, since the NFL hasn’t and likely won’t attempt to shape public opinion through something like a TV commercial. (The NFL’s P.R. strategy is much more economically priced, with a total cost of less than, say, $1 per year.) Moreover, some would contend that CBS and all other networks (including NBC) have assumed a “part of it” by agreeing to continue to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to the NFL in the event of a work stoppage.
Atallah later said on Twitter that, to his knowledge, the NFL did not instruct CBS to reject the ad. But, frankly, some messages don’t need to be expressly delivered. As the NFL continues to become a bigger and bigger ratings behemoth, the network partners who give the league hundreds of millions for the privilege of televising the games will be disinclined to do anything that will rile up the powers that be.
Really, why wouldn’t CBS take the money from the union to air the ad? The content is neither inappropriate nor inflammatory. Networks routinely sell ad time to politicians hoping to build public support for their causes. In our view, this situation is no different.