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Detroit's WXYZ Is 1st to Air Condom Ads

January 28, 1987|JUDITH MICHAELSON | Times Staff Writer

The station with the last call letters in the alphabet--WXYZ-TV in Detroit--became the first in the nation to air advertisements for condoms as an AIDS preventive, its general manager said Tuesday.

Jeanne Findlater said the ABC affiliate aired the 30-second spots at about 11:50 p.m. (EST) Monday during the third break of "Nightline" and again at 10:58 a.m. Tuesday at the end of "Oprah Winfrey." First reactions from viewers, she said, were 218 calls protesting the airing and 80 in favor. This, she added, was considered "very positive. "Usually it's people who are upset who call, not people calling to congratulate you." The Detroit station leads the way in a new trend toward openness in advertising condoms. Because such ads were associated with birth control, stations traditionally have rejected them, citing viewer objections on moral or religious grounds.

But with the AIDS crisis, some stations are changing their position. In recent months, condoms have been cited by public health officials as an AIDS preventive.

In addition to the Detroit station, a number of other stations have recently stated they intend to accept appropriate condom commercials, and on Tuesday, Knight-Ridder Broadcasting, which owns eight TV stations, became the first group to announce that it will accept condom ads as a disease preventive.

The WXYZ ad for Lifestyles, produced by the Jerry Della Famina agency in New York, said Findlater, shows "a young woman in an extremely tight shot, chin to forehead, looking like a young Mia Farrow, who is saying that sexually transmitted diseases are of real concern and that condoms have been shown to be effective."

The last line of the ad, Findlater added, is: "I'll do a lot for love, but I'm not ready to die for it."

"The agency told us we are the first to be on the air," Findlater said, noting that WXYZ, an ABC affiliate, also aired the first ad for a contraceptive sponge last year. Position of all three networks on the subject is essentially the same: Both CBS and NBC have declined to use condom ads for "moral or religious" reasons while ABC says it's "inappropriate to air that product on television."

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