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ESPN’s rejection of politically-charged ad sparks examination of commercial policy

Jason Fry examines ESPN’s ad-approval process for the Poynter Review Project. Fry writes, “How does ESPN assess advertisements for its networks? And why does it sometimes reject them? The answers sometimes depend not just on the ads themselves, but on where those ads send viewers and what they find there. 

That issue came up late last month in connection with an ad from the Rise Up and Register Campaign, a voter-registration effort aimed at NASCAR fans. In the ad, second-year racer Blake Koch (pronounced Cook) notes that more than half of racing fans didn’t vote in the last election, and admits he was one of them. 

“It’s time for all of us — the entire NASCAR nation -– to rise up and make our voices heard in this election,” he says. 

ESPN rejected Rise Up and Register’s ad, deciding it violated its policy (communicated to ad agencies) of not taking ads that include political or issue-oriented advocacy or ads from religious institutions. Last month, Koch -– who often shares his testimony at churches — appeared on “Fox and Friends” to discuss the decision and whether he was being targeted for his religious beliefs.”

Click here to read Fry’s full article.

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