Animal rights group NYCLASS slammed Charter Communications on Sunday for releasing a provocative TV commercial featuring “Sopranos” star Edie Falco urging city council to ban the “abusive” horse-drawn carriage industry.
In a letter threatening legal action, New Yorkers for Clean Livable and Safe Streets co-founder and chairman Steve Nislick said he was taken aback when Charter Communications rescinded its pre-approval of the ad, recounted by Falco.
“We are writing to let you know that NYCLASS is considering aggressive legal action in response to Charter’s decision to approve – and then inexplicably remove – our recent TV commercials from your cable networks,” Nislick said in a letter to the President and CEO of Charter Communications, Tom Rutledge. .
The ads in question include the narration of Emmy-winning actor Edie Falco and feature images of injured carriage horses captured by passers-by on the streets of downtown Manhattan. In recent weeks, those same images have been broadcast on many networks in your system including Spectrum News NY1, PIX11, WCBS and others, âNislick said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Post.
The Post reported on the announcement last week and posted videos of fallen and injured horses there. Some of the same videos have been posted in earlier articles on injured horses – provocative but not horrible. One showed a bloodied horse after crashing into the back of a BMW sedan in Midtown.
Nislick said Charter executives last Wednesday approved the ads for airing on NY1, MSNBC, CNN, Animal Planet, CNBC and Lifetime “without raising any concerns about their content.”
âTwo days later, we were informed that the ad purchase had been taken off the air with only a vague verbal explanation that the content was ‘too graphic’. Charter declined to provide details of what was specifically considered too graphic and gave no guidance on what to do to get the ads back on the air, âsaid the NYCLASS boss.
He called Charter Communications’ sudden about-face “puzzling” given that the images featured in the commercials have already been shown widely on television.
âIn addition,â said Nislick, âthe ads are currently running on other platforms which have approved their content without any hesitation – making Charter an outlier in terms of censorship.â
Nislick said he was seeking “further clarification” on Charter’s cancellation of the purchase of six-figure ads and an explanation of what was specifically “too graphic” with its content.
“If the advertisements are not re-aired, we reserve the right to pursue all available legal remedies, including taking legal action and / or submitting additional advertisements on the same subject,” a he declared.
A spokesperson for Charter Communications, Maureen Huff, would only say, âThe ad does not meet our guidelines.
NYCLASS used its financial might to influence municipal elections.
Mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned for a horse-drawn carriage ban in 2013 – and NYCLASS helped him get elected – but he still failed to convince city council and pushed to keep the rides inside Central Park instead of the busy streets.
The animal rights group aided de Blasio’s first mayoral campaign by running ads attacking a rival, former council president Christine Quinn.
During the recent Democratic mayoral primary in June, the group ran ads attacking candidate Andrew Yang. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams won the primary and is the preferred Democratic candidate to win mayoralty over Republican Curtis Sliwa.
Sliwa supports NYCLASS’s campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages and has proposed switching to electric cars around Central Park.
Adams opposes a transport ban but is open to discussions on reforming the industry, a spokesperson said.
Carriage drivers are represented by the Transport Workers Union and they oppose banning their tourism industry.