ibelieve.com (and Christianity on TV)
CBS rejects Christian dot-com ads
Network 'banishes' iBelieve from 'Jesus,' not for e-ternity
By Julie Foster
In an unprecedented move, CBS has banned iBelieve.com from
advertising during the May 14 and May 17 segments of the "Jesus"
mini-series, as well as in any episode of "Touched by an Angel."
CBS spokesperson Dana McClintock says the iBelieve.com television ads
were rejected because they were not "consistent with the expectations
of a diverse audience" and would "commercialize" the mini-series.
The ad offers viewers a free Christian music CD if they register at
iBelieve's website, which features a mix of Christian merchandise and
content. The ad originally featured Christian music, but iBelieve
removed it in hopes of getting the ad aired.
"Our goal was to introduce Christian music and top Christian artists
to a broad audience," says a statement released by the website.
"Every new registrant would be mailed a free CD and, even more
importantly, iBelieve.com would make a donation to E.R.A.C.E. -- a
group fighting racism -- for every registrant."
"iBelieve.com felt that advertising on this epic mini-series would be
a way for us to financially support moral network programming as well
as an ideal way to reach those who would be interested in visiting
our site," said Jef Fite, president of iBelieve.com.
The organization spent two months negotiating with CBS before it was
informed it could not advertise during the mini-series. CBS rejected
the ads on the grounds that their content is too similar to the
program and might confuse viewers.
However, CBS.com has aggressively pursued iBelieve.com, seeking
advertisements for the "Jesus" miniseries and "Touched By an Angel"
on the Christian website.
McClintock said there is nothing inconsistent about one CBS division
rejecting advertising while another pursued it.
"This is a very big company with many different types of guidelines,"
he said. "There are distinct differences between broadcast television
He said the TV ads were rejected because they would commercialize the
show and were not "consistent with the expectations of a diverse
audience." The ban extends to the "Touched by an Angel" TV series for
the same reason, he said.
iBelieve.com executives questioned whether they are being held to a
double standard. They cited Nike ads that aired on CBS during the
college basketball tournament featuring "Bracketville," a fictional
community with a name that plays upon the brackets used to organize
"It seems to be perfectly acceptable to run advertising that's
exactly like the content of programming in a sports setting. But in
our case, it doesn't seem that the same rules apply," said Jef Fite,
president of iBelieve.com.
But McClintock said it's unfair to compare CBS's rules for sports and
entertainment programming and said ads are accepted or rejected on a
"Each of the networks has a code of practices and these have been in
place for years," said Wally Snyder, president of the American
Advertising Federation, an industry group. "I've never heard many
complaints," he said, according to the Associated Press.
iBelieve was prepared to pay $450,000 to run two ads during "Jesus"
-- a relatively small amount in the world of network advertising,
said Al Ries, a Roswell, Ga., marketing consultant.
"If they were a big advertiser, believe me, they'd work something
out," he told AP. The network division responsible for this "wouldn't
have a job unless they rejected something. And it's nice to reject a
teeny advertiser and not lose much money."
iBelieve.com hasn't given up yet. The Web merchant is considering
advertising on the CBS programs that lead into the miniseries and is
hopeful a compromise can be reached.
"We feel like the Internet start-up David standing up to the
media-conglomerate Goliath," said John Nardini, who heads iBelieve's
As usual, I greatly suspect that Hollywood's version of Jesus
will do more harm than good. We probably won't have any pirates
chasing Noah's Ark this time, but I would be surprised if there are
not other gross inaccuracies.
It strikes me as odd every time I'm confronted with the issue of
Christians attempting to control TV programming. I actually received an
email asking me to sign a petition affirming that I was deeply distressed
by a rumor that a program consisting of fairy tales about angels was
going to be taken off the air. (I'm actually distressed that it's on the
air). What do TV program producers know about angels? Years ago I became
so annoyed with a program that had something stupid about God in it that
I tossed my TV set out of a second story window. I watched it crash on
the cement of the carport. It was fun :).
Since then I have grown up enough so that now I can now watch the
creative efforts of the unenlightened without getting angry with them for
being unenlightened. They can not and never will produce anything
spiritual until they have been changed from within. They cannot change
themselves. Flesh will never cast out flesh.
"...because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does
not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so;"
Honestly, TV programming is not the theological issue of the day. Why
Christians believe it is their duty to adjust the color and fine tune the
world to their own taste and comfort is much more alarming.
ibelieve.com is my example of outright blasphemy against God. In my
opinion it is a loathsome disgusting worldly attempt to use the
methods of the world to gain influence in society. Their web site is
a perfect example of spiritual harlotry and deception. And now,
adding insult to injury, they have planned to pour huge sums of money
into advertising to spread their evil influence on television.
Religious flesh is certainly awful when it asserts itself as
arrogantly as it has here.
The spiritual warfare going on around us has next to nothing to do
with politics or television. I totally agree with Ted on this.
Their whole approach is the exact opposite of God's stated plan and
purpose for the church as Ray so eloquently outlined in "Body Life"
and "Authentic Christianity" a quarter century ago.
To show you how awful these people are in their approach, I have
attached the picture they use in their full page ads in Christianity
Yesterday and other "leading" evangelical publications. "Just Insert
God" is hardly honoring to the Lord in any way don't you all agree?