P & G abandons Dr. Laura talker
Ad giant pulls its sponsorship, while Boston station expresses reservations about airing controversial show
By Susanne Ault -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/21/2000 8:00:00 PM
The gay-rights train racing to derail Dr. Laura picked up some serious steam last week.
First, ad giant Procter & Gamble decided to yank its sponsorship of the Paramount show. Next, United Airlines' in-flight magazine Hemisphere stopped accepting ads for Dr. Laura Schlessinger's radio show. And, Boston station WCVB-TV is uncertain about airing the show, due this fall.
Elizabeth Cheng, the station's programming director, told the Boston Globe, "We're undecided on how we're going to proceed. There are many options that we have."
Paramount said the show "will be committed to presenting society's moral and ethical issues without contributing to an environment of hurt, hate or intolerance."
On her radio program, Schlessinger has called homosexuality "deviant," "abnormal" and a "biological error."
Cheng and other WCVB-TV executives who have already agreed to pick up Dr. Laura (along with 96% of the U.S.) will meet with representatives from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) this week.
A WCVB-TV representative said, "We're not in a rush to make a decision one way or the other; we have the entire summer to think about it."
GLAAD has already met with affiliates in seven of the top 10 markets.
P & G pulling its ads off Dr. Laura has helped GLAAD and other protesters' efforts to keep the show off the air.
"This should be a sign to other advertisers that there are a lot of ways to buy around her show [and remain profitable]," GLAAD's Steve Spurgeon said.
He also indicated that in addition to wcvb's receptiveness, San Francisco's KPIX-TV has also been attentive to GLAAD's desire to block the show's broadcast. KPIX-TV could not be reached for comment.
Following P & G's decision last Wednesday, a Paramount representative said, "We continue to believe Dr. Laura will be an advertiser-friendly program.as demonstrated by its strong upfront sales."
The studio criticized P & G for withdrawing its support "without ever having seen the show or judging it on its own merits."
Explaining the company's new stance, a P & G representative said, "There has been controversy surrounding Dr. Laura on a number of topics. We've chosen not to be involved with a show that will require time and resources to deal with this kind of controversy."
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