Occasionally a TV or radio program sparks so much controversy that its advertisers flee (see: Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Don Imus). It is very rare, however, for a TV or radio station to decline an advertiser. After all, advertising is the way they make money.
This week, however, WMTV/Channel 15, an NBC affiliate in Madison, did just that. Station manager Bob Smith refused to air an ad from a liberal group, the Agenda Project, which depicts a Paul Ryan impersonator pushing an elderly woman off of a cliff.
“Remember what Paul Ryan did to granny?” asks the narrator, before a man pushes a struggling woman in a wheelchair into a ravine, presumably to her death, while “America the Beautiful” plays in the background.
“Is America beautiful without Medicare?” the ad asks at the end.
According to the Agenda Project, Smith only said the ad was declined “due to content.”
Smith, however, was unavailable for comment on Friday, and another company executive indicated the station would not be commenting further on the decision.
Payne says the TV spot has not been rejected by any other of the multiple stations the ad was proposed to in six swing states. In her long political career, she said, she cannot recall a station refusing to run an ad. She added that the group planned to run the ad on another Madison station.
Last year, Hilton Howell, the CEO of Gray Television, which owns WMTV and a number of other TV stations across the country, described political advertising as key to the company’s success.
I have noticed that WMTV 's coverage of political news often swings to the right (while WISC's goes to the left.)