Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
The New York Times
Late Edition - Final
4 Networks Reject Ad Opposing Bush on Lawsuits
By ROBERT PEAR
WASHINGTON, Jan. 31
An advocacy group, USAction, said on Monday that four television networks had turned down its request to run an advertisement opposing President Bush's effort to clamp down on medical malpractice lawsuits.
The group wanted to run the spots just before Mr. Bush's State of the Union address on Wednesday. But networks said the advertisement violated their standards for advertising on controversial issues.
The NBC Universal Television Network, owned by General Electric, told the group, ''We are sorry that we cannot accept your ad based on our network policy regarding controversial issue advertising.''
As a general rule, the policy says, ''time will not be sold on NBC Network facilities for the presentation of views on controversial issues.'' The policy does not apply to candidates for public office in election years.
ABC, CBS and the Fox Broadcasting Company said they had also turned down the advertisement.
But CNN plans to run the advertisement.
''We will be running the ad this week,'' said Jennifer Toner, a spokeswoman for CNN advertising sales, a unit of Time Warner. ''It cleared our internal vetting process. We accept advocacy advertising. Our viewers understand that such ads may have a slant.''
Mr. Bush has proposed strict limits on medical malpractice litigation, including caps on damages for pain and suffering, as part of a campaign for sweeping changes in the nation's civil justice system. In the television advertisement, Dylan Malone of
''President Bush is siding with the insurance, H.M.O. and drug companies, trying to end what they call frivolous lawsuits, while 100,000 Americans like Ian die each year because of medical errors,'' Mr. Malone says in the spot. ''Mr. President, let's fix the health care mess, but please stop blaming the victims. My son's life was not frivolous.''
In an interview, Mr. Malone said that he had received more than $1 million in a settlement with a clinic where his son was born. But, he said, much of the money was used to care for the child, who died last May.
Business groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the United States Chamber of Commerce, plan media and lobbying campaigns in support of Mr. Bush's proposals on civil litigation.