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Florida cable companies won’t be broadcasting abortion ads to beat up Disney and others

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TALLAHASSEE – A Democratic research and political advocacy group wants some of America’s most powerful corporations to stop donating to anti-abortionists in Florida. But the local television markets will not broadcast the group’s ad.

Last week, American Bridge 21st Century planned to launch a six-digit advertising flash – the group did not specify the exact size – in three Florida media markets to solicit AT&T, Disney, and NBCUniversal for donations to anti-abortion politicians. The commercial accused the corporations of supporting politicians who want to pass an abortion law like the Texas “Heartbeat Act” that bans almost all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.

“Legislators made it in Texas, and now they want to try Florida,” say actors in the ad. “They finance large corporate funds. What are you doing?”

AT&T, Disney, and NBCUniversal together donated nearly $ 453,000 to Florida Republican lawmakers who sponsored abortion restrictions, according to American Bridge analysis. American Bridge obtained its campaign funding data from the nonprofit, non-partisan FollowTheMoney.org, which tracks campaign donations across the country.

An AT&T spokesman noted that the company has also donated to politicians who advocate abortion rights.

“AT&T has never taken a position on abortion laws, and its employee political action committees have never based contribution decisions on a legislature’s positions on abortion,” spokeswoman Margaret Boles said in a statement emailed Friday.

Disney and NBCUniversal spokespersons did not respond to email requests for comments. Both companies have also given money to politicians who advocate abortion rights.

The Democratic group was already running digital ads on abortion in Florida. But last week they planned to run the cable commercial in Tallahassee, Tampa and Orlando as part of their Corporate Accountability Action project. On Friday, the group was told that local cable providers had refused to operate. The activists tried to place the commercial on the interconnect, a technique that allows advertisers to purchase from a large cable company in order to reach multiple subscribers. In Tallahassee, Comcast was the company that refused to broadcast the ads for the marketplace. In Tampa and Orlando, Spectrum said no.

A spokesman for Effectv, Comcast Cable’s ad sales division, said American Bridge’s ad “does not meet the company’s policies for ‘Personal Attack'”. These rules state that Comcast can decline an ad if it’s “just a personal attack, a direct attack on an individual company, or a comment on a private dispute”.

A Spectrum spokesman also said the ad was not in compliance with guidelines.

It’s not the first time American Bridge has struggled to place an ad. Earlier this year, the Dallas Morning News rejected an ad from the group criticizing AT&T for supporting sponsors of the Texas abortion law. The Dallas newspaper said it was also following its advertising policy, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Florida leaders have announced that they will address the issue of abortion in this legislature, which begins January 11th. However, it is unclear whether they will pursue a Texan-style law that prohibits most abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected – before many women know it is pregnant. Texas law also contains a controversial provision that essentially empowers ordinary citizens to report violations of the ban.

Related: Florida Legislature will consider heartbeat abortion law, the Senate president says

A Republican lawmaker, Rep. Webster Barnaby, R-Deltona, has already passed a bill like Texas law. But House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, and Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, have not yet spoken out in favor of such a move. Governor Ron DeSantis, who supports abortion restrictions, has also failed to make his legislative intentions clear.

Some Republicans are suspicious of a Texan style effort. Senator Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, who will serve as Senate President from fall 2022, said in an interview last week that she does not support the citizenship enforcement provisions in Texas law.

“The people who say we will save lives if we allow neighbors to make neighbors: think about the alternative. How many people died in Nazi Germany because people extradited people? ”Said Passidomo, who also supports abortion restrictions. “We don’t do that in this country.”

Passidomo is not on American Bridge’s list of Republican lawmakers who have historically supported laws restricting access to abortion. The group does not criticize the donors of Passidomo. It criticizes companies that have donated to lawmakers like Senator Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula – one of 28 lawmakers the group wanted to call in a press release announcing the local ad purchase.

In an interview on Friday, Albritton said he had never heard of American Bridge but called the group’s tactics “the worst politics has to offer” and an example of “corporate cancel culture”.

“If you want to highlight the fact that these companies gave lawmakers money for life, why not check the records? I guarantee they gave money to the Democrats too, ”Albriton said. “At the end of the day, if you only tell one side of the story, that is called a half-truth, which also means a half-lie. “

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