Secretary of State pulls controversial death penalty public service announcement

POSTED BY:  Channel 8 Eyewitness News

   LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) _The Nebraska Secretary of State John Gale has pulled a controversial public service announcement that sought to clarify death-penalty ballot language.   Death penalty opponents called on the Nebraska Broadcasters Association to pull the secretary of state’s office PSA. .

     The group Retain a Just Nebraska called the radio spot a state-sponsored political ad because it fails to mention that Nebraska will still have life imprisonment if the death penalty stays repealed. The group raised its complaints in a letter to the broadcast association this week.

     Retain a Just Nebraska also argued that large voting groups such as young people and non-English speakers could miss the message because it’s only presented on the radio and in English.

      Gale said he knows and respects those on both sides of the debate over the public policy of having or not having the death penalty in Nebraska, and has been very impressed with the thorough and factual presentations by both sides at the public hearings held by the Secretary of State and at community forums across the state. By withdrawing the PSAs, the focus can continue on the substantive issues and not be diverted by a controversy over the broadcast of the PSAs.

       Jim Timm, president and executive director of the Nebraska Broadcasters Association stated, “We respect the position of Sec. Gale and his decision to suspend airing these announcements. I have notified all member radio stations accordingly.”