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New tobacco ‘apology’ ads plan still excludes most Black media

By GEORGE E. CURRY, NNPA Editor-in-Chief | 5/1/2014, 4:13 p.m.
  • The Arizona Informant
  • Denver Weekly News
  • Inner-City News (Connecticut)
  • Gary Crusader (Indiana)
  • Louisville Defender (Kentucky)
  • Insight News (Minnesota)
  • St. Louis American
  • Omaha Star (Nebraska)
  • Ohio City News
  • Black Chronicle (Nebraska)
  • Portland Skanner (Oregon)
  • Seattle Skanner
  • Milwaukee Courier
  • Charlotte Post (North Carolina).

The tobacco companies proposed reducing what it called “major circulation newspapers,” i.e., white dailies, from 29 to 27, eliminating these papers from the original list:

  • The Boston Herald
  • Florida Times-Union
  • Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Texas)
  • Fresno Bee (California)
  • New York Post
  • New York Sun (which has closed)
  • Orlando Sentinel (Florida)
  • Palm Beach Post (Florida)
  • Sacramento Bee (California)
  • San Diego Union-Tribune
  • Tallahassee Democrat (Florida)

The following were added:

  • The Baltimore Sun
  • Birmingham News (Alabama)
  • Charleston Post and Courier (South Carolina)
  • Clarion-Ledger (Mississippi)
  • Commercial Appeal (Tennessee)
  • Detroit Free Press
  • New Orleans Picayune
  • Newark Star-Ledger (New Jersey)
  • News Journal (Delaware)

Remaining on both ad buy lists were:

  • The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Boston Globe
  • Charlotte Observer (North Carolina)
  • Chicago Sun-Times
  • Chicago Tribune
  • Dallas Morning News
  • Houston Chronicle
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Miami Herald
  • New York Daily News
  • The New York Times
  • Philadelphia Inquirer
  • Richmond Times-Dispatch (Virginia)
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • Tampa Bay Times (formerly Florida’s St. Petersburg Times)
  • USA Today
  • Wall Street Journal
  • Washington Post

The initial proposal called for television ads to be placed only on ABC, CBS or NBC because they reached the largest number of viewers Monday through Thursday in the desired 7-10 p.m. prime time slot. The same holds true for African-American viewers.

“For the same days of the week and hours of the day, the average African-American audience on CBS was 872,000; on NBC, 621,000; and on ABC, 758,000,” the revised proposal stated. “To be sure, the three channels for which African-Americans comprised the highest percentage of viewers, on average, were TV One (89.7 percent), BET (81.7 percent) and VH1 (67.6 percent). But VH1 averaged 442,000 African-American viewers, BET averaged 418,000 African-American viewers and TV One averaged 127,000 African-American viewers—more than 300,000 fewer African-American viewers on average per time slot than on ABC, CBS and NBC.”

Under the revised plan, “Up to one-third of the spots may run on a program that is not on ABC, CBS or NBC if it has an overall audience at least as large as the least-viewed time slot of ABC, CBS and NBC during the prescribed days of the week and hours of the day, and [the] defendants use their best efforts to ensure more African-American viewers than the ‘benchmark time slot.’”

In other words, TV One would technically be eligible to receive commercials, but probably won’t get them because they can’t match the audience numbers available on ABC, CBS and NBC.

No proposal was made to advertise on radio or magazines in either the original or revised plan.

The filing, called a joint praecipe, stated: “The parties believe that they have reasonably accommodated the amici’s requests to modify the proposed consent order. While it is impossible at this late juncture to accommodate all of the concerns raised by the recently appearing amici, the revised proposed consent order changes the geographic distribution of major circulation newspapers to better reach African-Americans, adds the largest African-American newspapers in 14 states and allows [the] defendants to run a portion of the corrective statements on television on any other channel network that will reach the same number of viewers and more African-Americans. The parties believe that these adjustments should satisfy the concerns raised by the amici and by the court at the status hearing.”