Israel superbowl commecial: Thousands complain to FCC about 'pro-genocide ad covering up Gaza massacre'

Israel superbowl commecial: Thousands complain to FCC about 'pro-genocide ad covering up Gaza massacre'
FCC flooded with complaints over undisclosed Israeli ads during Super Bowl, sparking debate on foreign influence in media
4 min read
13 February, 2024
Israel ran its propaganda campaign while millions of Americans were watching the superbowl game, attended by the likes of Taylor Swift in Las Vegas supporting her boyfriend Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs [Getty]

Activists say nearly 10,000 viewers have flooded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with complaints after the Super Bowl LVIII broadcast, alleging CBS violated transparency rules by airing Israeli government-funded ads without proper disclosure.

"CBS violated FCC rules by not making proper disclosures to the viewers across all platforms," wrote Abed A. Ayoub, National Executive Director of the Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), on his X (formerly Twitter) account.

"This not only undermines the integrity of broadcasting standards but also misleads the public by not providing necessary context about the ad's origins...FCC must hold CBS and the NFL accountable. The American public has a right to know and be informed about the influence of foreign governments in our media, and this includes Israel," he added.

The ADC has set up a call to action on its website where people can complain directly to the FCC.

The Super Bowl is the championship game of the National Football League (NFL), and it's considered one of the biggest sporting events in the United States. It happens annually, and this year, it took place on February 12th, 2024.

Millions of Americans were watching the event in which advertisers try to grab their attention. Popstar Taylor Swift was at the Super Bowl  to support her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, who plays tight end for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs went on to win the game, making it their second consecutive Super Bowl victory.

The network that airs the Super Bowl, CBS for Super Bowl LVIII in February 2024, is responsible for selling the advertising slots during the game. They set the prices and manage the entire sales process.

CBS reportedly sold out its ad inventory months ago, with prices reaching an estimated $6.5 million to $7 million for a 30-second spot.

Paramount+, owned by Paramount Global, the same parent company as CBS, was the official sponsor of Super Bowl LVIII in 2024. This sponsorship gave them unique leverage and creative freedom compared to other advertisers.

Paramount+ secured a specific segment dedicated to their own commercials within the Super Bowl broadcast. This allowed them to run multiple ads throughout the game without competing with other brands for slots.

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Blood sports?

Israel ran a series of 30-second ads during the NFL Super Bowl on Sunday to push their narrative of the Gaza war part of its hasbara propaganda drive.

The ad begins by showing an NFL athlete playing with his son, then cutting to clips of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza playing with their kids before 7 October when around 250 Israelis were taken captive.

The commercial was dedicated to Israeli dads being held in Gaza, ending with the hashtag "Bring all dads back home".

It was part of an Israeli government campaign, overseen by the National Public Diplomacy Directorate, producing and promoting media for Israel's narrative on the Gaza war, which has killed over 28,000 Palestinians.

Another ad showed a packed stadium with the words: "In a roaring stadium, their silence is deafening. 136 people are still being held hostage by Hamas".

As the ad was being run, Israel conducted a rescue operation in Gaza's southern city of Rafah seeing two Israelis being released.

At the same time, Israeli bombs killed around 100 civilians, as part of a diversion for the operation, according to Israeli officials.

Activist group Jewish Voice for Peace called out the ad, saying: "The Israeli military is bombing Rafah, the most densely populated area in the world, while Americans watch the Super Bowl. This is intentional. This is genocide."

"We're demanding the world watching the superbowl turn their eyes to Rafah."

"The attack on Rafah began at about the same time the Stop Hate/Antisemitism ad played. This isn't coincidence. It is planned. They know most eyes in the US are glued to the game and not paying attention," wrote Ayoub earlier.

The Israeli government bought the Super Bowl ad space through Paramount's stream of the event, with the Israeli government likely paying a sum of $7 million for a 30-second space, according to pricing reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The New Arab has contacted CBS for comment but has not received a response at publication time.