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Pretty impressive, that $3 million the Rev. Donald E. Wildmon says his American Family Association will spend to dissuade advertisers from backing ABC's "NYPD Blue."

What will AFA get for its money? Since "NYPD Blue" is the only new series able to crack the top 20 network TV shows list this season, and is receiving critical acclaim, the AFA will not be able to drive it off the air. Still AFA's protests against the show's occasional nudity and offensive language may cost ABC some money if skittish blue-chip advertisers stay away and the next level of second-tier advertisers bargains down the price.

But the AFA campaign also serves notice to producers of any future "NYPD Blue-er" that more sex and profanity will bring more protest. That could cool off programmers who constantly push the envelope. AFA's rather sophisticated national ads probably will bring in funds to keep the battle going; people unhappy with what they see on TV might rally to support an organization that takes a stand.

Putting pressure on advertisers always brings a response of "censorship" from TV-land, of course, but this time the Rev. Wildmon is behaving in the traditions of a democratic society. His ads, in effect a call for the marketplace to decide issues of program acceptability, are infinitely better than those groups that, when alarmed at TV fare, rush off to Washington to seek legislatively imposed answers. That's where real censorship resides.

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