T. Boone Pickens has been taking to the airwaves for months now, pushing alternative energy solutions, and apparently was dismayed when a 15-second spot was turned down by NBC/CNBC/MSNBC on grounds of being too controversial and for making unsubstantiated claims. Pickens was surprised, if only because he would have guessed his previous ads were also controversial. According to Adweek, a Washington communications law firm, Patton Boggs, warned NBC about selectively applying the First Amendment. NBC did not explain a communication to Pickens that seemed to have rejected his latest ad, and said it was under review and now approved, and that Pickens had reacted too soon.
RBR/TVBR observation: We always think it is safest to err on the side of airing. What if an energy company wants to buy one of those corporate posturing ads that run on the Sunday morning talk shows, talking about their wonderful forward-looking projects in a way that public interest groups find to be at best misleading and at worst downright untruthful? Does that make them controversial and force their rejection too? If Picken’ search for an alternative is controversial, it would seem that arguing for the status quo should be deemed equally controversial. We say, don’t get in the middle of that – just air them both and enjoy cashing two checks.