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January 28, 2010

Why CBS should accept gay dating site ad

Hands1 Oh CBS, how did you not see this coming?

First the network agrees to run a pro-life ad from conservative group Focus on the Family during the Super Bowl, declaring the network is relaxing its standards against accepting "advocacy" ads.

Now a gay dating site wants to buy an ad featuring two men making out.

It was like watching somebody throw one of those ultra-bouncy superballs at a brick wall directly in front of them.

The biggest surprise was that the challenge came from some random Web site -- ManCrunch.com -- instead of the ever-opportunistic PETA.

Now CBS has a choice: Accept the ad and offend millions of Americans. Or reject the ad and offend millions of Americans.

Unless there's some NBC-esque baby-splitting compromise ... CBS can't really win this, right?

Well, wrong. It can.

By agreeing to run the ad.

Discrimination shouldn't be a political issue. CBS doesn't need to make it into one. The ad is brief and funny and Super Bowl-themed. The network doesn't need to endorse the content, any more than it needs to endorse the Focus on the Family ad, or agree that Budweiser really is the "King of Beers." (It's not, by the way. Sierra Nevada is. Duh.).

The network may even benefit from the controversy.

More viewers tune in for the ads than the game, according to one study. By accepting a variety of advocacy ads, it makes the advertising portion of the Big Game downright socially relevant and interesting.

Not to mention, is being perceived -- accurately or not -- as advancing gay rights really such as bad thing in 2010?

Now I'm not convinced ManCrunch actually has the $2.5 million or so to pay for an ad. And CBS is reportedly muttering something about not being sure if there's any seats left to fill on the Super Bowl bus.

All might be moot, in other words. But it's making the decision that's important.

Here's the ad ...


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