DEMOSS FOUNDATION AD TESTS BROADCAST LIMITS

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A new anti-abortion spot showing the ultrasound image of an embryo and the slogan "I hope to be born in April" is causing some to question how far TV stations will go in airing advocacy ads.

The ad is funded by the Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation, which also sponsored several other ads themed "Life. What a beautiful choice."

One of those, featuring shots of happy kids from unplanned pregnancies, has been cleared in more than 100 markets.

But many stations airing that spot refuse to show the embryo ad, which features the sound of choir boys singing with the on-screen message "Anywhere in the country I can be aborted right now."

"I would never run anything like that," said Mike LaBonia, director of sales at WGNO-TV, an independent station in New Orleans that runs other DeMoss spots.

Ed Aaronson, spokesman for New York independent WWOR-TV, says his station also rejected the latest ad but continues to run the earlier DeMoss spots.

"We thought it was too graphic," he said. "It was a little harder edged."

However, WWL-TV, the CBS affiliate in New Orleans, has run the new ad during its morning news show.

"New Orleans is a very conservative market," said station and general sales manager Jimmie Phillips. "We felt the ads were well done, and the people had the money to run them."

WBBM-TV, the CBS-owned station in Chicago, has also run the ads in morning slots.

Meanwhile, the National Abortion Rights Action League is calling for reinstatement of the fairness doctrine so stations will be required to air both sides of the issue.

Representatives of the group say it does not have the funds for a huge counter-ad campaign, but it's urging stations to air its public service announcements.

"In the past, these ads were feel-good, but now their ideological extremism is becoming more apparent," said James Wagoner, VP of the group.

The sales manager at one station, who asked to remain anonymous, urged caution to stations that, like his, run the milder DeMoss ads. The ad's distributors often send several spots at once, he said, and stations might inadvertently run the embryo ad.

The woman in charge of placing the ads at Corinthian Media Buyers in New York declined to comment, but a source close to her said, "Most don't take that spot. It's really hard core.

"But if they're not careful, they'll see four spots and say, `Rotate equally."'

Ms. Hontz is a reporter at Electronic Media.

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