×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

NBCUniversal, Fox News Pull Controversial Trump Campaign Ad

UPDATED: NBCUniversal and Fox News said they would pull a controversial Trump campaign commercial from rotation on its networks after the ad sparked criticism while appearing during “Sunday Night Football.”

Both Judd Apatow, a movie director who has worked frequently with NBCU’s Universal Pictures, and Debra Messing, an actress who is one of the stars of the NBC sitcom “Will & Grace,” took to social media after the commercial ran Sunday night to criticize the decision.

“After further review we recognize the insensitive nature of the ad and have decided to cease airing it across our properties as soon as possible,” NBCU said in a statement Monday morning. The 30-second commercial plays up the purported threat of foreign migrants entering the United States. And the spot, paid for Donald J. Trump for President and approved by President Trump, attempts to link  Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican immigrant who murdered two Sacramento sheriff’s deputies in 2014, to migrants leaving Central America.

The ad had also surfaced on MSNBC; Fox News Channel; and Fox Business Network. In a statement released Monday, Fox indicated the commercial would no longer appear on its networks. “Upon further review, Fox News pulled the ad yesterday and it will not appear on either Fox News Channel or Fox Business Network,” said Marianne Gambelli, president of ad sales for both outlets.

But the commercial has already generated millions of impressions, according to data from iSpotTV, a tracker of commercial placements. The Trump campaign spot aired eight times on Fox Business Network; six times on Fox News Channel; three times on MSNBC;  and once on NBC. Of the 21.4 million impressions the ad generated, more than 20 million came from its appearance on “Sunday Night Football.”

The networks’ decisions come days after CNN said it had turned down an opportunity to run the ad, citing issues with its tone. “CNN has made it abundantly clear in its editorial coverage that this ad is racist. When presented with an opportunity to be paid to take a version of this ad, we declined,” the AT&T-owned network said in a statement issued Saturday.

A spokesman for the National Football League said the sports organization “played no role in the airing of the spot last night.” The spokesman added:  “The NFL has no approval rights regarding campaign ads. That falls to the network that is selling the advertising and airing the game.”

The commercial appeared in NBC’s national network feed. Some advertisers – particularly political campaigns – prefer to buy local time because it’s cheaper and can be bought with more precision. Advertisers sometimes opt for stations or cable and satellite systems that operate in specific geographic regions with voters or customers that may be more desirable than people in another part of the country.

Broadcast networks typically take ads from a range of political candidates as they are mandated to give various politicians fair and equal time by the Federal Communications Commission. NBCUniversal quickly realized after the commercial’s appearance that it was more akin to an issue-based ad, according to a person familiar with the matter. Networks are not required to run those kinds of ads, and NBCU realized it had the leeway to refuse the Trump spot.

Backlash to the campaign commercial is the latest example of scrutiny being placed on media properties of all kinds in an era when consumers are increasingly polarized, particularly after the 2016 presidential election. Advertisers have pulled spots from properties ranging from “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” on TBS; “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News Channel; and even a revival of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” produced by New York’s Public Theater at times of controversy.

Asked about the networks dropping the ads on Monday, President Trump said he was not aware of it, but felt the commercials “certainly are effective.” He also said that “a lot of things are offensive.”

POPULAR ON VARIETY: 

More TV

  • Reed Hastings seen on day one

    Reed Hastings on the Streamer Wars: 'It's a Whole New World Starting in November'

    After dominating the subscription streaming scene for so long, Netflix is girding for a new phase in the SVOD wars with the entry of more deep-pocketed players like Disney and Apple, CEO Reed Hastings said Friday. “While we’ve been competing with many people in the last decade, it’s a whole new world starting in November…between [...]

  • BBC ITV BritBox Streaming

    Viacom's Channel 5 and Comedy Central Join BritBox Ahead of Its U.K. Launch

    Viacom-owned Channel 5 and Comedy Central have joined BritBox, the “best-of-British” subscription streaming service created by the BBC and ITV. The platform, already available in North America, is due to launch on home turf in Britain by year’s end. Under the deal with Viacom, shows from the U.K.’s Channel 5 can appear on BritBox following [...]

  • The-Head

    Behind the Scenes With Mediapro’s Antarctic Thriller Series 'The Head'

    On Sept. 13, the cast and crew of Mediapro’s upcoming dramatic thriller “The Head” gathered at a swanky Santa Cruz de Tenerife hotel to kick off promotional duties for this English-language series, which will wrap shooting later this month. It was day 50 of production, and the cast had been working late, rushing to get [...]

  • The Plague Season 2 Spanish TV

    Telefonica, Atresmedia to Create Content Factory Behemoth

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — In a game-changing move for Spanish-language production Telefonica, Europe’s third biggest telco, and Atresmedia, the original co-creators of “La Casa de Papel,” are uniting to create a new joint contents production giant. Aimed at gaining more scale and uniting talent relations – writers, directors and producers – the 50/50 joint venture will [...]

  • KKR-Backed German Media Conglomerate Finally Has

    KKR-Backed German Media Conglomerate Finally Has a Name: Leonine

    The KKR-backed German media company formed through the merger of Tele München Group, Universum Film, i&u TV, and Wiedemann & Berg Film finally has a name: Leonine. The company revealed its moniker Friday, saying that “Leonine” met its criteria of being associated with its home region of Bavaria and Munich, in southern Germany, and of [...]

  • PERFECT LIFE

    San Sebastian: Leticia Dolera on Canneseries Winner ‘Perfect Life’

    SAN SEBASTIAN —  “La Casa de Papel” (“Money Heist”) may be the most seen of Spanish series this year. Leticia Dolera’s still-to-bow “Perfect Life,” however, is the most laureled, sweeping at April’s 2nd Canneseries TV festival both best series and best special performance for its female leads, Dolera herself, Celia Freijeiro and Aixa Villagrán, from [...]

  • Screen writer Beau WillimonMary Queen of

    Beau Willimon Re-Elected as President of Writers Guild of America East

    Beau Willimon, the playwright and showrunner who launched Netflix’s “House of Cards,” has been re-elected without opposition to a two-year term as president of the Writers Guild of America East. Willimon also ran unopposed in 2017 to succeed Michael Winship. Kathy McGee was elected to the vice president slot over Phil Pilato. Secretary-treasurer Bob Schneider [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content