NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- CBS has rejected the "Let Us Play" ad from the National Football League Players Association that was to air Feb. 5, on the CBS College Sports Network, the union told AdAge.com.
George Atallah, assistant executive director of external affairs for the Washington-based NFL Players Association, said the union received word Friday that the network will not run the ad, which was scheduled to air during the NFLPA All-Star Game.
"I tried to have my team contact CBS to try to understand exactly what happened, but apparently they said they didn't want to get involved with the labor negotiations," Mr. Atallah said. He noted that game organizers were told by Kim Niforos Bolan, VP-Programming for CBS College Sports Network, although it is unclear who at the network made the actual decision.
Calls to CBS were referred to Senior VP-CBS Communications Group Dana McClintock and VP-Sports Communication Jennifer Sabatelle, neither of whom returned a message at press time.
The NFLPA and the league are involved in contentious negotiations over the collective bargaining agreement which expires March 4. The owners have threatened to lock the players out unless they can come to an agreement on such issues as an equitable form of revenue distribution, a rookie wage scale and an 18-game season, among other items.
CBS is one of four networks that pay the NFL $4 billion a year to televise the league's games. CBS, Fox, NBC and ESPN, as well as DirecTV, all agreed to pay the NFL in 2011 even if a lockout disrupts or cancels the season -- a relationship that the NFLPA finds a little too cozy. In fact, the union filed suit against the league claiming the TV deals provide the owners with guaranteed payment even when no games are played, effectively purchasing "lockout insurance."
A ruling could come as soon as this week. Mr. Atallah said CBS's decision to pull the ad "is clearly indicative of the relationships the networks have with the league."
Asked if the thought the league itself asked CBS to pull the ad, Mr. Atallah said: "I'm not sure how that plays into this specific incident."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy could not be reached for comment.
The ad is part of an overall NFLPA campaign entitled "Let Us Play." The union is using mostly social media for the effort -- the 60-second spot was to be seen on TV only once as part of the Feb. 5 NFLPA All-Star Game on the CBS College Sports Network. The union has two minutes of commercial time as part of its contract with game organizers.
The ad was produced by Arlington, Va.-based New Media Strategies. "It's pretty clear that the powers-that-be don't want the players' voices to be heard," said Pete Snyder, CEO of New Media Strategies.
Both Messrs. Atallah and Snyder said the NFL Players Association will continue to run the "Let Us Play" ad on its YouTube channel and other social media applications, and are considering a response ad to CBS' decision on Tuesday -- which is Media Day at the Super Bowl in Dallas.