MEDIA SHUN ADS FOR OJ VIDEOTAPE;OUTLETS CITE CONTROVERSY IN REFUSING TO RUN THE SPOTS

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While coverage of O.J. Simpson's murder trial received intense TV coverage last year, the acquitted football star and former ad spokesman is finding he can't buy his way onto those same airwaves and cable networks today.

At issue is direct-response ad time touting Mr. Simpson's videotape interview on his views of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole and Ronald Goldman. Simpson video producer Tony Hoffman, the president of Maui Productions, has discovered that just because he's willing to buy ad time doesn't mean others are willing to sell it.

By and large, the nation's broadcasters and cable networks have turned a cold shoulder to the 2-minute, 90- and 60-second spots, saying they are simply too controversial.

Said a Lifetime Television spokeswoman: "Lifetime reserves the right to pass on product that we determine to be inappropriate for our audience."

Also taking a pass was KABC-TV in Los Angeles. "Our viewers called us in large numbers and requested that we don't take the ad, and we adhere to their wishes," a KABC spokesman said.

Other cable networks saying no include CNN, CNBC, the Discovery Channel and Prime Sports. In Los Angeles, not one major broadcast station sold Mr. Hoffman advertising time.

But Mr. Hoffman has managed to buy time on some Fox affiliates and other smaller stations, as well as within some syndicated shows.

Mr. Hoffman declined to list the stations or the shows, saying he doesn't want the publicity to lead to more consumer backlash against those outlets. But he did say his spots are airing on more than 50 broadcast stations.

Black Entertainment Television-the cable network that ran the first post-trial Simpson interview last month-is also running the spots.

Stations and cable networks that turned down the ads said it was a simple matter of dollars and sense. For the few advertising dollars involved, it doesn't make sense to handle anything as hot as the video, executives said.

Dallas Fox affiliate KDFW-TV originally agreed to air the spots, reasoning that since Mr. Simpson was acquitted, he had the right to be heard, a spokeswoman said.

But the station stopped running the ads Feb. 9 after only three airings.

"We had a tremendous public outcry," the spokeswoman said.

Mr. Hoffman said he will continue to look for advertising time for the videotape, which began shipping to consumers Feb. 16.

"We have lots of money to spend if we can find the right buy," he said.

Mr. Spring is Los Angeles bureau chief of sister publication Electronic Media.

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