Greenpeace has accused Channel Nine of caving to pressure from beverage giant Coca-Cola after the network banned a controversial ad supporting a national recycling scheme.
The Greenpeace advertisement begins in the style of a Coca-Cola ad, with a woman drinking a bottle of Coke on a beach as DJ Adrian Lux's song Teenage Crime plays in the background.
As the woman takes a sip of Coke, a bird falls out of the sky in front of her, followed by hundreds of other dead birds.
The clip, which has received more than half-a-million hits on YouTube, then shows images of dead sea birds with their stomachs full of pieces of plastic.
The ad aims to promote legislation for a new 10-cents-a-bottle recycling scheme, similar to the one already in place in South Australia.
Greenpeace says Coca-Cola and other beverage makers have led extensive campaigns against cash-for-container schemes and are lobbying against the legislation.
Last week, Greenpeace raised $20,000 in donations in just 24 hours to get the advertisement run during Channel Nine's Friday Night Football broadcast.
But late yesterday, Channel Nine announced they were pulling the ad, despite having accepted the $20,000.
A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola says no one from the company had contact with or put pressure on Channel 9 not to run the advertisement.
A Greenpeace spokesman says Channel Nine initially said they were banning the ad because it was biased.
The broadcaster has since issued a statement saying the advertisement is "offensive".
But Greenpeace says Channel Nine has bowed to pressure from Coke.
"They took the money and now they've bottled it," Greenpeace's Reece Turner said.
"Coke has been accused of bullying politicians into blocking cash for containers.
"It's a reasonable assumption their influence is behind Channel Nine's last-minute choking."
A Greenpeace spokesman says Channel Nine's decision makes sense, considering Coke's "enormous capacity in terms of advertising".
In a statement, Channel Nine's sales and marketing director Peter Wiltshire defended the network's decision.
"We had no issue in taking the original booking from Greenpeace but on reviewing the content we deemed it to be offensive to our viewers and so advised the client we would not proceed with the placement on the Network," he said.
"We have refunded the original deposit."