Advocacy groups to advertisers: The 'Doctor' is out

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Advocacy groups take on Laura Schlessinger and lobby advertisers to steer clear of her upcoming syndicated TV talk show in a newspaper ad running May 24 in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and trade publications.

The headline reads, "Ad time with 'Dr. Laura' is for sale. Here's what you're buying," followed by quotes from the syndicated radio therapist on issues such as women, homosexuality and affirmative action. "Laura Schlessinger has angry and hurtful things to say about all kinds of Americans," the ad says. "Many advertisers don't realize how alienating her program has become. Consumers judge brands by the company they keep. Aren't there better ways to reach women 18-49, or anyone else?"

The ad is notable for its effort to expand "Dr. Laura" protests beyond gay activists, who have taken issue with her commentary. The $200,000 ad buy was sponsored by four groups: Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation; National Conference for Community and Justice; National Medical Health Association; and People for the American Way. The ad follows Procter & Gamble Co.'s decision the week of May 15 to pull advertising from the TV show, syndicated by Viacom's Paramount Television Group for launch this fall.

In a statement, Paramount said: "We continue to believe 'Dr. Laura' will be an advertiser-friendly program, offering an attractive demographic for national advertisers as demonstrated by its strong upfront sales."

Paramount added: "We are disappointed that Procter & Gamble has chosen to withdraw their advertising without ever having seen the show or judging it on its own merits. We also expect that the fans of Dr. Laura will express their disappointment with this decision."

Copyright May 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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