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Tebow ad highlights trend toward allowing advocacy spots

With the financial services industry and large segments of the auto industry no longer buying up commercial time for big events, the networks have been forced to embrace groups they previously avoided, especially in high-profile events like the Super Bowl.

But with the Tim Tebow pro-life ad ready to be aired during the Super Bowl, CBS has explained that advocacy ads will be considered is “responsibly produced,” according to the Associated Press.

The term “responsibly produced” doesn’t lend itself to an easy definition, however. Though it likely falls within Potter Stewart’s know-it-when-you-see-it neighborhood, the reality when it comes to advocacy is that the existence of responsibility will be influenced by the views of the beholder.

As to Tebow, the 30-second spot from Focus on the Family focuses on Pam Tebow’s 1987 pregnancy, which due to an illness a doctor suggested she terminate. She declined, and the baby that would have been aborted became the star quarterback at the University of Florida.

“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,” CBS spokesman Dana McClintock told the AP. “In fact, most media outlets have accepted advocacy ads for some time.”

In other words, “General Motors doesn’t buy space anymore. We had to replace the revenue with something.”

Still, the complaints will persist. But the deeper message is that, if anyone opposed to the Tebow ad hopes to articulate their views, they can buy a 30-second spot, too.

And as the guys at WFNZ in Charlotte pointed out to us earlier this morning, CBS now might be able to charge extra for the spots aired immediately before and immediate after the Tebow ad, which due to the controversy will be watched even more closely.

Meanwhile, is it any wonder that the major networks aren’t complaining about last week’s Supreme Court ruling that corporations may spend unlimited sums in support of political candidates?