Florida cable companies won't air abortion ad bashing Disney, others

Kirby Wilson, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Political News

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Democratic research and political advocacy group wants some of America’s most powerful companies to stop donating to Florida abortion opponents. But local television markets won’t air the group’s ad.

Last week, American Bridge 21st Century planned to launch a six-figure ad blitz — the group wouldn’t specify the exact size — in three Florida media markets to call out AT&T, Disney and NBCUniversal for donating money to anti-abortion politicians. The commercial accused the corporations of backing politicians who plan to pass an abortion law like Texas’ “heartbeat bill,” which bans nearly all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

“Lawmakers did it in Texas, and now they want to try to do it in Florida,” actors say in the ad. “Big corporate money is funding them. What are they doing?”

According to an analysis by the American Bridge, AT&T, Disney and NBCUniversal have given nearly $453,000 combined to Republican state lawmakers in Florida who have sponsored abortion restrictions. American Bridge got its campaign finance data from the nonprofit, nonpartisan FollowTheMoney.org, which tracks campaign donations across the country.

A spokesperson for AT&T noted that the company also has donated to politicians who support abortion rights.

“AT&T has never taken a position on abortion legislation, and its employee political action committees have never based contribution decisions on a legislator’s positions on the issue of abortion,” the spokesperson, Margaret Boles, said in an emailed statement Friday.


Spokespeople for Disney and NBCUniversal did not respond to emailed requests for comment. Both of those companies also have given money to politicians who support abortion rights.

The Democratic group was already running digital ads about abortion in Florida. But last week, they planned to run the cable spot in Tallahassee, Tampa and Orlando as part of its “Corporate Accountability Action” project. On Friday, the group was told local cable providers had declined to run it. The activists had tried to place the commercial via the interconnect, a process that allows advertisers to make one purchase with a large cable company to reach the subscribers of multiple providers. In Tallahassee, Comcast was the company that declined to air the ads for the market. In Tampa and Orlando, Spectrum said no.

A spokesperson for Effectv, the ad sales division of Comcast Cable, said the American Bridge ad “did not comply with the company’s ‘Personal Attack’ guidelines.” Those rules say Comcast can reject an ad if it is “merely an attack of a personal nature, a direct attack on an individual business or comment on a private dispute.”

A spokesperson for Spectrum also said the ad did not meet its guidelines.


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