Recently, a few clients have inquired as to whether or not commercials need to be cleared with the cable networks. 

Some cable networks do require that commercials be submitted for review and approval prior to airing. The cable networks that require clearance are ABC Family, Fox Cable Networks, MTV Networks, Nickelodeon and MyNetwork TV. NBC Universal Cable also requires clearance, but only for certain commercial categories.

While most cable networks do not require clearance, many have Standards and Practices Departments that will review advertising submitted by advertisers or ad agencies. These cable networks include Discovery Communications, Turner Networks, ESPN, E! Entertainment and CNN, just to name a few.

When clearing commercials for clients, I generally submit clearance materials, such as scripts, storyboards, rough-cuts and final commercials, to the major broadcast networks, as well as to the cable networks that require clearance, at the same time.

Sometimes clients have a difficult time determining whether or not to submit commercials to the cable networks for clearance. In such instances, I often advise clients to consider clearing commercials with the cable networks that do not require clearance under the following circumstances:

  • The commercial message or content is controversial in nature.
  • The product being advertised falls into a certain commercial category, such as alcoholic beverages, M-rated video games, weight loss products, dietary supplements or R-rated movies, as these categories can have special requirements and restrictions.
  • The client has an exceptionally heavy cable buy.

By clearing commercials with the cable networks, clients have the opportunity to rectify any issues that may arise prior to the commercials being produced or finalized. This will help ensure that the final versions, when submitted for final review, will be approved for air.

Marilyn Colaninno is Director of Rights and Clearances for Reed Smith and is responsible for clearing commercials for the firm’s many clients in the advertising industry. If you have specific questions, please contact Marilyn directly at 212-549-0347 or