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Online Exclusive: Media News

STAPLES PULLS ADS OFF SINCLAIR BROADCASTING

Move Continues Presidential Election Controversy

By Published on . 0

WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- Office retailer Staples has pulled some of its advertising off stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast Groups, stemming from a political controversy that erupted during last year's presidential election.
Sinclair operates 62 TV stations in 39 markets, including 20 Fox, 19 WB, 6 UPN, 8 ABC, 3 CBS and 4 NBC affiliates.

A Staples spokesman confirmed the marketer is no longer running local advertising on Sinclair stations' news programs, but said national advertising may still run on Sinclair stations in non-news programs.

Customer concern
He would not elaborate on the decision, but said one factor was the concerns expressed by customers -- "a number that warranted Staples considering them," the spokesman said.

Those concerns stemmed from a campaign by a left-leaning nonprofit group called Media Matters for America, which urged its members to contact advertisers who ran messages on Sinclair station newscasts.

Anti-Kerry documentary
Sinclair became the news last year with its public support of President Bush and its airing of a virulently anti-Sen. John Kerry documentary shortly before the election. Sinclair newscasts also air conservative commentary without presenting a liberal response. Media Matters for America has asked advertisers to pull ads until Sinclair agrees to air a counterpoint message on its newscasts.

Sinclair did not return requests for comment.

Staples' ad buys in question represent a very small portion of the marketer's media buy, the spokesman said. He would not disclose the number or Staples' total media budget, but the retailer spent $23.4 million on TV advertising in January through July of 2004, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.

'Not a boycott'
Sally Aman, a spokeswoman for Media Matters, said, "It's not an advertiser boycott, but an effort to inform the public about their use of the public airwaves and encourage Sinclair to seek a counterpoint."

She said Staples is the first marketer to react; a Web site, SinclairAction.com, lists Kraft, McDonald's Corp., Target, Geico and Sprint as other "notable Sinclair advertisers." Staples appears on that list with a line through its name.

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