GM puts brakes on NBC ad policy

General Motors said yesterday it would allow its TV spots to air during NBC News programming, seemingly satisfied with the network’s apology and response to charges the web rigged tests to inaccurrately portray the company’s trucks in crashes.

The giant automaker is believed to spend in the neighborhood of $ 140 million annually on advertising with the network, although the actual amount spent for ads during news-related programming is unclear.

GM’s decision to shift the advertising time away from NBC News-produced product happened Monday, after the company filed a defamation lawsuit against the network.

In a company statement, GM said it repositioned its advertising away from NBC News programming while it assessed the impact of its lawsuit announcement and NBC’s reaction.

However, the total dollar amount of the company’s agreement to advertise with NBC did not change.

“Based upon NBC News’ full disclosure of facts and its apology on NBC News’ ‘Dateline NBC,’ we are reinstating our advertising immediately and have communicated that to NBC officials,” a GM spokesman said in a statement.

NBC, which found out about the ad switch a day earlier, appeared unaffected by it.

“It wasn’t a big deal,” NBC News spokeswoman Peggy Hubble said. “Internally, nothing was stirred up.”

Hubble cited past situations where a company may have been the focus of news reports and decided to switch its advertising away from news programming.

On Tuesday, NBC offered an on-air apology to GM, which resulted in the automaker dropping a defamation suit against the network.

GM charged, and NBC agreed, that the web had rigged tests of GM trucks to result in explosions during side-impact crashes. The tests ran during “Dateline NBC,” which aired in November. In addition to the apology, NBC agreed to reimburse GM for the legal costs involved with the lawsuit, said to be around $ 1 million.

Meanwhile, there have been no staff changes at “Dateline,” although some fallout is expected. A show spokeswoman said it “was too soon to tell.”

Hubble said NBC News president Michael Gartner was involved in companywide management meetings and had not addressed the issue.

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