SIMPSON TRIAL HITS WRONG NOTE FOR MORMON AD

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PHOENIX-The contrast of images was so striking it looked like brilliant target marketing. Instead, it was a local TV station's blunder.

Shortly after those watching live coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial earlier this month saw a photo of a battered Nicole Brown Simpson, Fox affiliate KSAZ went to a commercial break at about 11:20 a.m. local time that included a 30-second spot for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The commercial featured shots of a well-groomed family kneeling in prayer in their home and a direct response offer for a free copy of the "Book of Mormon."

The commercial was created by church-owned Bonneville Communications, Salt Lake City. Western International Media here placed the spot.

The image of supposed spousal abuse contrasting with a commercial on family values may be astute target marketing but not for her client, said Pat Dower, VP-director of buying at Western International.

"That time period would have been a normal buy," she said. "However, if it ran during the O.J. Simpson trial, the church will not pay for it. That is considered objectionable programming, and the station should have known better."

Nevertheless, KSAZ seems to be hitting the mark ratings-wise in its live coverage of the double-murder trial. The station's 17 Nielsen share in the 10:30 a.m.-noon time slot that day was the highest among Phoenix TV stations, equal to 40,000 to 50,000 viewers, said Joe Canty, local sales manager.

"We are up overall about 10% to 15% in daytime," Mr. Canty said.

While viewership is up, the station isn't actively offering special rates for the O.J. trial coverage.

The station is carrying live testimony on days when crucial testimony is expected.

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