Gas Station TV operates video terminals placed on gas pumps that display news, weather, and, of course, commercials. However, Barack Obama produced a commercial for the network that discussed his energy policy and advocated conservation. That ad was rejected by GSTV on the grounds that they avoid political messages. But the Obama campaign said that company gave a different reason for turning them down: It was too damaging to the oil industry.
On one hand, it seems reasonable that service stations might not want to host advertising that attempts to persuade customers to purchase less of their products. On the other hand, consumers are already making that decision on their own. With record gas prices they are cutting back on unnecessary travel and are choosing more fuel efficient vehicles.
A bigger picture analysis, however, leads a to an entirely different conclusion. Obama’s energy program includes a $1,000.00 rebate for consumers. That’s money that might be spent on gas. Additionally, Obama is selling his program as a means to eventually lower gas prices. With lower prices come higher consumption. So it could be argued that Obama’s ad will actually benefit the service stations where it would air.
Unfortunately, the short term thinking on the part of the oil industry is going to ignore these arguments and insure that these common sense messages will be censored from this advertising venue. It’s too bad, but it’s not much of a surprise.