NEW YORK — In upcoming weeks, Americans watching television in some cities or reading several major magazines and newspapers will be exposed to the first nationwide advertising campaign about the birth control pill. The message: the Pill has improved, its potential risks are fewer and its benefits are greater.
This message will be brought to you by the Assn. of Health Reproductive Professionals and Ortho Pharmaceutical Corp., which jointly announced the television and print-ad campaign here Thursday.
But you won't be seeing the TV ads on ABC, CBS or NBC. All three networks have refused to air them because they believe the spots violate their policies precluding commercials for contraceptives.
The campaign is being funded by Ortho Pharmaceutical, the nation's leading developer and provider of contraceptives for women, which gave the association $3.4 million for it.
"We developed this campaign in a climate of widespread national confusion about and non-compliance with birth control," said Dr. Michael Burnhill, president of the association. "The United States has one of the highest unintended pregnancy rates among the world's industrialized nations. That's why a public education campaign that reaches Americans directly through a mass medium with the singular impact of television is so critical."
Burnhill called upon the networks to reconsider their decisions not to run the ads. Spokesmen for NBC and ABC said there were no plans to do so.
"We have had a long-standing policy against running contraceptive ads," said Dom Giofre, manager of corporate information for NBC.
"Running contraceptive ads raises very complex ethical, moral and religious issues which are difficult to address in a 15- or 30-second ad," said Tom Makin, vice president for program information at Capital Cities/ABC Inc. "We prefer to let the local stations make those decisions."
Although the networks rejected the spots, the sponsors said that 16 local stations (none are in Los Angeles) have cleared them for airing in November. Full-page print ads will appear starting today in 19 magazines and newspapers, including The Times. Among others: the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Chicago Tribune and USA Today, plus Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report.