Last Friday, October 27th, syndicated radio host Peter B. Collins was interviewing Jeff Cohen, a co-founder of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), and author of a new book, "Cable News Confidential", which documents his observations working in the cable news industry, and how corporate sponsors dictate what airs in our media.
During the course of the interview, Collins mentioned that someone had sent him a copy of an internal memo originally sent by ABC Radio Networks. The memo contains a listing of nearly 100 ABC Radio advertisers who insist that their commercials not air on Air America Radio affiliates. According to the memo, the adverstisers insist that "NONE of their commercials air during AIR AMERICA programming." Among the advertisers listed are Bank of America, Exxon Mobil, Federal Express, General Electric, McDonald's, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, and the U.S. Navy.
Today, Media Matters for America posted a scan of the memo, showing that some advertisers don't like to be connected with progressive talk radio. FAIR.org had obtained a copy of the memo from Collins.
You can download the segment from Collins' show here, download the whole show at White Rose Society (October 27, 2006), or see Media Matters for America's expose.
Granted, many companies refuse to allow their ads to air on any kind of partisan or controversial talk radio programming. "No-buy" lists exist for some conservative talkers and shock jocks such as Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony. If advertisers are, in fact, even-handed in this approach, then that's understandable, since many companies shun any kind of controversial programming (which is why Rush works so hard at shilling air mattresses and steel buildings). The problem arises if the sponsors do in fact advertise on conservative talk shows such as Limbaugh or Hannity while going out of their way to shun their liberal counterparts. Perhaps then these companies are trying to tell you something about what they think of your radio listening tastes and ideology?
According to Take Back The Media, Rush Limbaugh Online (unofficial parody site) and Topple Bush, a few of the companies listed on the blacklist memo do indeed advertise on Limbaugh's program, though the list is somewhat out of date. Internet dating site eHarmony is still listed as a Rush advertiser, though Red Lobster and Geico (not on AAR blacklist) pulled their advertising years ago after a TBTM-orchestrated boycott. Johnson & Johnson and Schering-Plough have also advertised on Limbaugh's show. Home Depot and Office Depot also advertise on conservative talk radio shows, particularly Sean Hannity's radio show. Bank Of America is a sponsor of Salem Communications, a radio station owner and syndicator of conservative talk radio personalities such as Mike Gallagher, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and Dennis Prager. Salem also owns Townhall.com, a conservative web site that BofA advertises on.
Of the companies featured on the blacklist, Allstate, Aventis, Bank Of America, Bayer, Chattem, Cingular, Clorox, Dell, eHarmony, ExxonMobil, Farmers Insurance Group FedEx, General Electric, Gillette, Hewlett-Packard, Home Depot, Hyatt, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, McDonalds, Merck/Schering-Plough, MGM, Michelin, Office Depot, Paramount, Philip Morris, Proctor & Gamble, Nestle, Nissan, Red Lobster, RE/MAX, Rentway, Sherwin-Williams, Sony, State Farm Insurance, Travelocity.com, True Value, United Healthcare Services, Visa, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and Wyeth all advertise on the FOX News Channel, home of such controversial conservative-leaning shows as The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity and Colmes, according to website Spending Liberally.
To their credit, Cingular is trying to avoid controversial programming, and pulled advertising from a New Jersey talk show after racist comments from the show's hosts. Other companies such as Radio Shack and Proctor & Gamble tend to avoid confrontational talk radio.
Further investigation shows that some of the companies on this blacklist do support some progressive talk radio, as they are prominently featured on Ed Schultz' show and website. The blacklist companies include Dell, Bayer, Epson Printers, Schering-Plough, Phillip Morris and Chattem. Office Depot, in particular, does extensive promotion with Shultz' show, and Shultz also appears in their radio advertising. Ironically, Schultz' show is featured on many Air America affiliates.
Here is a list of the companies who refuse to allow their network buys to air on Air America:
Allstate, American Heart Association, Aventis, Avon, Bank Of America, Bayer (all products), BMW Motorcycles, Chattem (Gold Bond, Phisoderm, Selson, etc), Cigna, Cingular, Clorox, Coke, Coty, Dean's Morningstar Foods, Dell, Denny's, Discovery Channel, eHarmony.com, Epson, Expedia.com, ExxonMobil, Farmer's Insurance, FedEx, Foot Action, Frito-Lay, GE, Gillette Venus, Goodyear, Heineken, Hershey's, HP, Home Depot, Hormel, Hyatt, Interstate Batteries, JC Penney, Kohl's, Kraft Foods, Levi's, Masterfoods, McDonalds, Merial Frontline, MGM, Michelin, Microsun (?), Morningstar, Nations' Cattlemen's Beef, Nestle, Nissan, NYSE, Office Depot, Outdoor Life Network, Proctor & Gamble, Paramount, Pepsi, Phillip Morris, Pier 1 Imports, Red Lobster, Re/Max, REI Sporting Goods (since denied), Rent-Way, Robert Hall, Schering-Plough, Sherwin Williams, Sony, State Farm, Toys R Us, Travelocity, True Value, United Healthcare, US Navy, USPS, Visa, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Welch's, Wrigley, Wyeth
ABC, REI respond to Air America blacklist memo
UPDATE: More advertisers respond to AAR blacklist accusations
This article and the two updates on this topic are linked at FAIR.org.
Tuesday, October 31, 2006