The United Church of Christ filed two petitions on Thursday asking the Federal Communications Commission to deny license renewals to two Miami television stations that wouldn't air an ad that alludes to condemnation of gay relationships by some churches. CBS and NBC rejected the ad. CBS said it does not accept advocacy advertising, while NBC said it does not accept ads that deal with a public
The United Church of Christ contends that the stations should lose their licenses because they have failed to provide viewers access to a full array of social, political, and moral ideas. The church targeted WFOR-TV, a CBS affiliate, and WTVJ-TV, an NBC affiliate, because their licenses are up for renewal in January and because both are owned by the networks, said Gloria Tristani, the church's managing director in its office of communications. Tristani, an FCC commissioner from 1997 to 2001, said she believes the church has a strong case against the stations.
The rejected commercial shows the liberal-leaning denomination's welcoming stance toward gays and others who might feel alienated by other churches. It portrays a gay couple, a Hispanic man, a black woman, and a man in a wheelchair being pushed back from the doors of a church by two bouncers. Flashed are the words "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we." NBC spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs on Thursday said the ad was rejected because it suggests that other religions aren't open to all people. CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said only that WFOR was never approached about accepting the ad. The United Church of Christ has nearly 6,000 congregations with more than 1.3 million members.