Condemn NBC for Censoring Anti-Keystone Ad

keystone xl

Target: NBC Ad Standards Director Jennifer Asare
 Apologize for pulling anti-Keystone XL pipeline ad at the last minute.

Climate group NextGen Climate Action recently created an advertisement to spread the facts about the economic and environmental problems that would arise if the Keystone XL pipeline were constructed to carry Canadian tar sands oil south of the border. NextGen designed the commercial as a response to the inaccuracies propagated through pro-Keystone ads created by TransCanada, the corporation that stands to make a huge profit from the project. NBC has already aired several TransCanada ads, so its last-minute refusal to air the NextGen commercial during President Obama’s Tonight Show appearance indicates the influence of corporate oil interests.

A spokesperson for NBC’s Washington, DC arm WRC-TV stated, “‘After a careful review, it was determined that this ad violates our guidelines,'” but did not specify which guidelines were violated, though reporters speculate NBC has chosen to view the commercial as “‘an attack of a personal nature'” on TransCanada CEO Russ Girling, whom the ad parodies. NextGen’s Executive Director Tom Steyer suspects foul play, because the organization submitted the ad early and in accordance with NBC guidelines, and he pointed out in a statement that NBC has a history of accepting “‘advertising petro-dollars.'” Steyer argued that the “‘public deserves to know whether WRC/NBC is censoring this ad because of actions by TransCanada or the fossil fuel industry’s $153 million in television ad spending.'”

By signing this petition, you will demonstrate to NBC and other television networks that watchers will no longer tolerate a lack of transparency and accountability in advertising. You will remind the ad standards department that unequal coverage of issues and bending to corporate influence are unfair and unacceptable practices. NBC must answer NextGen’s challenge to produce an affidavit that the commercial was not rejected to preserve the network’s flow of oil money.


Dear Director Asare,

I am extremely disappointed in your department’s last-minute decision to pull NextGen Climate Action’s advertisement against the Keystone XL pipeline from the Tonight Show featuring President Obama. As the commercial was submitted in accordance with NBC guidelines, and as NBC has recently run several pro-Keystone ads sponsored by TransCanada, your audience can only conclude that the decision to pull NextGen’s ad is tantamount to censorship of environmental groups, a blatant offense against the United States Constitution. Worse still is the fact that NBC continues to accept huge sums of money from groups like TransCanada to spread false advertising to American citizens about the supposed economic benefits of the Keystone project.

I am calling on you to apologize for refusing to run the anti-Keystone commercial, and to respond to NextGen’s request that NBC produce an affidavit that TransCanada and other big oil corporations had nothing to do with the decision regarding this ad. Furthermore, I encourage you to air ads like this one by environmental groups in the future, in order to protect your viewers from biased advertising and to preserve free speech. The American people need a media that is not beholden to corporate interests.

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: chesapeakeclimate via Flickr.

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