The animal rights group NYCLASS blasted Charter Communications Sunday for pulling a provocative TV ad featuring “Sopranos” star Edie Falco that urges the City Council to ban the “abusive” horse carriage industry.
In a letter threatening legal action, New Yorkers for Clean Livable and Safe Streets co-founder and president Steve Nislick said he was blindsided when Charter Communications rescinded its prior approval of the ad, narrated by Falco.
“We are writing to inform you that NYCLASS is exploring aggressive legal action in response to Charter’s decision to approve – and then inexplicably remove – our recent television ads from your cable networks,” Nislick said in a letter to Charter Communications president & CEO Tom Rutledge.
“The advertisements in question include narration from Emmy-award winning actor Edie Falco and feature footage of injured carriage horses captured by bystanders on the streets of midtown Manhattan. In recent weeks, these very images have been broadcast on many networks in your system, including Spectrum News NY1, PIX11, WCBS and others,” Nislick said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.
The Post reported on the ad last week and posted videos in it of fallen and injured horses. Some of the same videos were posted in prior stories about injured horses — provocative but not gruesome. One showed a horse bloodied after crashing into the back of a BMW sedan in Midtown.
Nislick said Charter executives approved the ads last Wednesday to appear on NY1, MSNBC, CNN, Animal Planet, CNBC and Lifetime “without raising any concerns about their content.”
“Two days later, we were informed that the ad buy was being pulled from the air with only a vague verbal explanation that the content was `too graphic.’ Charter refused to provide any details about what specifically was considered too graphic and offered no guidance on what actions needed to be taken to return the ads to the airwave,” the NYCLASS honcho said.
He called Charter Communications’ sudden about-face “puzzling” given the footage featured in the ads has already been widely shown on television.
“Furthermore,” Nislick said, “the ads are currently running on other platforms that approved their content without any hesitation – making Charter an extreme outlier in terms of censorship.”
Nislick said he seeks “further clarification” about Charter’s cancellation of the six-figure ad buy and an explanation as to what specifically was “too graphic” with its content.
“If the advertisements are not returned to the air, we reserve all rights to pursue any and all available legal remedies, including initiating legal action and/or submitting additional ads on the same subject matter,” he said.
A Charter Communications spokeswoman Maureen Huff would only say, “The ad doesn’t meet our guidelines.”
NYCLASS has used its financial muscle to help influence city elections.
Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned on banning horse carriages in 2013 — and NYCLASS helped get him elected — but he still failed to get the City Council to go along and has pushed to keep the rides inside Central Park instead of trafficked streets.
The animal rights group aided de Blasio’s first campaign for mayor by running ads attacking a rival, former Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
In the recent June Democratic primary for mayor, the group ran ads attacking candidate Andrew Yang. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams won the primary and is the Democratic nominee favored to win the mayoralty against Republican Curtis Sliwa.
Sliwa supports NYCLASS’ campaign to ban horse carriages and proposed switching to electric-powered carriages around Central Park.
Adams opposes a carriage ban but is open to discussions on reforming the industry, a spokesman said.
The horse carriage drivers are represented by the Transport Workers Union and they oppose banning their tourist-heavy industry.
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