Dec 16, 2019

Axios PM

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 466 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: America in 2019

Photo: Zola

The battle over what counts as "family-friendly" in America is currently raging over at the Christmas movie channel, with important lessons for anyone who runs a major corporation.

Why it matters: Media brands are under pressure to change their standards of what "family-friendly" looks like, Axios' Sara Fischer writes.

  • The Hallmark Channel has now twice reversed course on an advertiser's wedding spot that features two women kissing.
  • The network initially removed an ad from Zola, a wedding planning company, calling the commercial "divisive," before restoring it and apologizing the very next day.

Hallmark has thrived in recent years with Christmas movies that viewers mainline from late October through the New Year.

  • It's “your place to go to get away from politics, to get away from everything in your life that is problematic and negative," Bill Abbott, the CEO of Hallmark's entertainment company, told The New Yorker.
  • "Countdown to Christmas has made Hallmark the No. 1 cable network among women between the ages of twenty-five and fifty-four, and, in some prime-time slots, No. 1 in households and total viewers," The New Yorker notes.

The big picture: The pressure isn't just coming from activist groups, but also corporate advertising partners, which are under enormous pressure today to take a stand on social issues.

  • Advertisers like Toyota came under fire over the weekend by activist groups who were pressuring them to pull their ads from the Hallmark Channel, unless the network reversed its decision.
  • Advertisers have also proven skeptical about running their ads against LGBTQ content, in fear that it could change the way their brands are perceived.

Between the lines: The industry is changing fast, Sara notes.

  • PBS is planning to increase its LGBTQ programming on broadcast and digital next year, sources tell Axios.
  • NPR was recently applauded for embracing a plurality of diverse voices on its air.
  • Disney hosted its first "Magical Pride" celebration at one of its theme parks in Paris earlier this year.
  • Highlights, a children's magazine, made headlines two years ago when it featured an illustration of a same-sex couple in an issue for the first time.

The bottom line: 61% of Americans support same-sex marriage, up from 31% in 2004, according to Pew.

Bonus: Pic du jour

Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

Tourists visit the Jiankou Great Wall outside Beijing, China.

2. What you missed
  1. 32.3% of U.S. gross domestic product was concentrated in just 31 counties in 2018. Go deeper.
  2. Former President Barack Obama believes living standards and economic outcomes would improve if women led every country in the world. Go deeper.
  3. Rudy Giuliani told The New Yorker that he needed former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch "out of the way." Go deeper.
  4. Fun fact: Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas Is You," originally released in 1994, topped the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time this week.
  5. 91 Fortune 500 companies paid no federal income taxes on their U.S. income last year. Go deeper.
3. 1 🙏 thing
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Data: Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

The long battle over which Christian denomination's sermons go longest is perhaps over:

  • The Pew Research Center used “computational techniques to identify, collect and analyze the sermons that U.S. churches livestream or share on their websites” over a stretch of eight weeks.