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DIRECTV Pulls Controversial 'Mountain People' Commercial
By Swanni

Washington, D.C. (October 24, 2013) -  DIRECTV told tonight that it will no longer air a TV commercial that featured a group of mountain people after the spot was sharply criticized as 'mean-spirted' and 'hateful" by a Kentucky tourist group and others.

In a statement, the satcaster didn't acknowledge that the end of the commercial's run was triggered by the criticism, saying it "ended its broadcast run on Monday and will no longer be airing." However, WYMT-TV, a CBS affiliate in Eastern Kentucky,  reports that DIRECTV also said in a statement that it didn't mean to offend anyone with the commercial.

The Harlan (Kentucky) Tourism and Convention Commission this week blasted the spot, charging it communicated a "hateful and mean spirited" depiction of mountain people. The commission urged the satcaster to pull the commercial from the air immediately.

"I was at home Sunday night watching the football game and all of sudden I see this commercial," commission member Roger Fannin told The Harlan Daily. "I couldn't really believe I was seeing this. I thought this country -- especially our media -- had moved beyond this and was out of the dark ages...I don't think this is just a Harlan issue. It was just a very hateful and mean-spirited commercial."

The commercial shows a well-dressed business man being restrained for unknown reasons by a family of "crazy hillbillies" (commercial's language, not ours.) The family members are missing teeth, chewing on root and living in a small shack populated by goats and other animals. The business man apparently wants to leave so he can use DIRECTV's voice search feature. The ad says that while the mountain people won't listen to him, DIRECTV will.

Fannin wasn't the only person upset by the ad. Patrick Baker, a law professor at the Appalachian School of Law, wrote today in the Kentucky Courier-Journal that the commercial "depicts every cliche, old saw and offensive stereotype ever associated with Appalachia; banjos in the background, unkempt appearances, rotted teeth, high-pitched laughs, unfit living conditions; livestock inside the home and a barefoot and pregnant woman cooking in the kitchen."

He adds: "
Imagine the social and political backlash against DIRECTV if they ran an ad that depicted and preyed upon African-American, Jewish, or Native American stereotypes. The media would crucify them as a corporate entity. Mountain folk are the last acceptable bastion for those who would mock and degrade a people based on heritage and culture."

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Phillip Swann is president and publisher of He has been quoted in dozens of publications and broadcast outlets, including CNN, Fox News, Inside Edition, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Financial Times, The Associated Press and The Hollywood Reporter. He can be reached at or at 703-505-3064.

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