The Web site www.iBelieve.com was eager to advertise on the high-profilenetwork miniseries, but CBS rejected the ads on the grounds that theircontent is too similar to the program and might confuse viewers. Thetwo-part TV program begins Sunday night.
At the same time, the Grand Rapids-based Web merchant says it is beingcourted by www.CBS.com to sponsor online sites for ``Jesus'' and the``Touched by an Angel'' series.
CBS spokesman Dana McClintock said there is nothing inconsistent aboutone 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 televisionand Internet.''
He said the TV ads were rejected because they would commercialize theshow and were not ``consistent with the expectations of a diverseaudience.'' The ban extends to the ``Touched by an Angel'' TV series forthe same reason, he said.
The iBelieve ad offers viewers a free Christian music CD if theyregister at iBelieve's Web site, which features a mix of Christianmerchandise and content. The ad originally featured Christian music, butiBelieve removed it in hopes of getting it aired.
IBelieve.com executives questioned whether they are being held to adouble standard. They cited Nike ads that aired on CBS during thecollege basketball tournament featuring ``Bracketville,'' a fictionalcommunity with a name that plays upon the brackets used to organizetournaments.
But McClintock said it's unfair to compare CBS's rules for sports andentertainment programming and said ads are accepted or rejected on acase-by-case basis.
``Each of the networks has a code of practices and these have been inplace for years,'' said Wally Snyder, president of the AmericanAdvertising Federation, an industry group. ``I've never heard manycomplaints.''
IBelieve was prepared to pay $450,000 to run two ads during ``Jesus''--a relatively small amount in the world of network advertising, said AlRies, a Roswell, Ga., marketing consultant.
``If they were a big advertiser, believe me, they'd work somethingout,'' he said. The network division responsible for this ``wouldn'thave a job unless they rejected something. And it's nice to reject ateeny advertiser and not lose much money.''
IBelieve.com hasn't given up yet. The Web merchant is consideringadvertising on the CBS programs that lead into the miniseries and ishopeful a compromise can be reached.
``We feel like the Internet start-up David standing up to themedia-conglomerate Goliath,'' said John Nardini, who heads iBelieve'smarketing.