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More Fox Affiliates Drop O.J. Simpson: If I Did It - Broadcasting & Cable

More Fox Affiliates Drop O.J. Simpson: If I Did It

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Over the weekend, Pappas Broadcasting and LIN Broadcasting--who own a combined total of nine Fox affiliates--announced they would not air the show.

Pappas owns Fox stations in Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.; Fresno, Calif.; and Dakota Dunes, S.D. LIN owns affiliates in Mobile, Ala.; Toledo, Ohio; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Providence, R.I. None of the affiliates will run the interview.

According to a report in The Washington Post, the Pappas stations said they did not want to help Simpson profit from the project.

On Friday, after worldwide condemnation of Fox’s two-part sweeps special O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here’s How It Happened, North Dakota’s Prime Cities Broadcasting was the first to announce it would refuse to air the interview.

John Tupper, chairman-emeritus of the Fox affiliate board and head of Prime Cities, which operates KNDX Bismarck and KXND Minot, the 160th-ranked market, and low-power stations in Dickinson and Williston, N.D., described the special as "unsuitable" for broadcasting. He said, on Friday, "We have recorded our concerns with the network. My stations will not be running the shows."

Tupper has previously refused to air movies with violence and sexual issues. However, this will mark the first time he has not run a Fox special, mainly because the network has unveiled them too late for advanced station screenings.

By announcing a few weeks in advance that it had obtained the Simpson interview turned down by other networks, Fox has achieved a primary goal of gaining worldwide attention for the book, which hypothetically describes how he would have killed ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and bystander Ron Goldman. The former football great was acquitted of criminal charges in the 1994 murders but was held liable at a 1997 civil trial.

News of the Fox special, which the network has described as an unrestricted two-hour interview, dominated TV and radio talk shows last week. The victims’ families were prominently featured discussing the pain that the show and book had dredged up for them.

On Wednesday, Goldman’s father, Fred Goldman, told CNN’s Larry King, "Don’t watch the show. Don’t buy the book. Send a message loud and clear." Meanwhile, ABC’s Barbara Walters said on The View that she had turned down a Simpson interview.

Having lived through previous controversies originating from Darnell’s reality domain, most notably the 2000 special Who Wants To Marry a Multimillionaire?, the network was undoubtedly aware of the outcry the Simpson special would cause.

By pulling it, Fox could greatly diminish the prospect of viewer backlash after a few days, when radio talk-show hosts and the rest of the media turn their attention elsewhere.

But executives at some major Fox affiliates, who ask not to be identified, saw the special as the logical conclusion to the "freak show" that characterized the criminal trial more than a decade ago.

Despite a bevy of media criticism and some internal questions, they reported getting few protest calls and e-mails from concerned viewers—and said the ones they have received appeared to be part of an organized campaign.

Personally, Jones said he found the idea of the Fox special obscene and immoral, calling it a “wink-wink” confession on Simpson’s part. He believes Simpson’s motivation was to get back into the spotlight after previously enjoying “30 years of public adulation.”

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