(CNSNews.com) – The director of the movie “Unplanned,” which tells the story of former Planned Parenthood Director Abby Johnson, who became pro-life,” testified on Capitol Hill Wednesday about the censorship he encountered when trying to promote the film on social media.
Chuck Konzelman, writer and director of the film, told the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution” how he chose to advertise on social media after the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) gave the film an “R” rating, which he said “strongly discourages much of the Christian audience and all of the Church of Latter-day Saints” from seeing the film, because “they have a general prohibition against seeing ‘R’ rated films.”
“We also sought to advertise on cable television, but with the exception of Fox News and CBN, we were systematically denied access to the outlets where we sought to advertise – among which were Lifetime, UP TV, Hallmark, HGTV, USA Network, Food Network, The Travel Channel, DIY and the Cooking Channel,” Konzelman said in his opening testimony.
“Lifetime, which is owned by A&E Networks, a joint venture of Walt Disney and Hearst Communications, told our buyers that they were refusing due to the ‘sensitive nature of the film,’ but it previously promoted an interview with Scarlett Johansson in which she touted Planned Parenthood. We consider these blanket refusals highly unusual and highly discriminatory, and are formally petitioned the FCC to look further into matter,” he said.
Konzelman said that Google Ads blocked the pre-release banner ads for the film, which “consisted of a woman – half of her face with a tear coming down and the words saying, ‘What she saw changed everything,’” He said the ads weren’t offensive.
After blocking the film’s ads, Google cited “a policy regarding abortion-related ads,” Konzelman said. “Just one problem: We weren’t doing abortion related ads. We were marketing a movie.”
Konzelman also testified about how Twitter suspended their Twitter account.
“We weren’t finished with social media woes. Within hours of our theatrical debut – in the early morning hours of Saturday, March 30th, the film’s Twitter account – technically the account owned by the film’s single purpose marketing entity – was suspended. The reason for that suspension has not – to the best of my knowledge – been made clear, beyond being ‘accidental’ or a mistake,” he said.
“However when such ‘accidents’ occur within 12 hours of the film’s theatrical debut – and after what I understand was nine months of ownership, during which time there were zero suspensions – the ‘glitch’ becomes suspect,” Konzelman said.
He said media personalities like Fox News Channel’s Shannon Bream, conservative commentator Dana Loesch, and actress Patricia Heaton spoke out about the “glitch” from their own social media platforms.
“If any progressive or left-leaning pundits or influencers came to our support, on the basis of principle, I am unaware of it. However, roughly three hours after the suspension, service was restored, although it’s also my understanding that our posting of a Twitter announcement with words to the effect of ‘We’re back’ was deleted from the account, without explanation,” Konzelman said.
“Later on the same day, Twitter apparently deleted the vast majority of those listed as ‘followers’ for our account… reducing the number from something on the order of 200,000 to less than 200. A thousand-to-one reduction in our listed followers. And numerous people – including the subject of our film – Abby Johnson – and the star of our film – Ashley Bratcher – found themselves unable to follow their own movie on Twitter,” he said.
Konzelman asked, “Why does this only seem to happen to conservatives?”
“Interestingly, on the one social media platform from today’s first panel where we didn’t have significant problems – on Facebook – our exposure exploded, and I believe the film’s Facebook site had something on the order of about 12 million trailer views by the time of our theatrical debut, and nearly 18 million to date,” he said.
“And we credit this unrestricted access with much of the film’s success – highlighting the importance of access to social media. For the record, we allege no collusion between any of the social media or cable media entities. At least not in the formal sense. They require no coordinated communication or agreement between them, because they are universally progressive in their orientation, political beliefs, and worldview… and likewise strongly predisposed toward stifling conservative thought,” Konzelman added.