Let’s talk about sex

August 28, 2008
A recent impasse over advertisement content raises concerns of censorship and topical double standards at Missoula’s CBS affiliate, KPAX.

The local office of Planned Parenthood tells the Independent the station refused to run an ad targeting young women with a message of affordable contraception. The ad, as written by organization staff, depicts three women in a café talking about the rising costs of birth control.

According to e-mails forwarded from Planned Parenthood, direct mentions of sex in the script caused concern with KPAX sales representatives and upper management, who responded with a significantly altered version of the ad copy. The spot was to run on the CW Network—a channel run by CBS and Warner Bros. Entertainment and known for airing sexually charged shows popular among young women, such as “America’s Next Top Model” and “Gossip Girl.”

“I think the thing that’s irritated a lot of us here is the complete and total hypocrisy,” says Beth Ann Cogswell, communications director at Planned Parenthood, who adds that she proposed the ad after a KPAX sales rep approached her about buying CW Network space in the spring. “We just wanted to be straightforward about what we were talking about.”

KPAX’s revised edition of the ad removes the direct references to sex and replaces them with a more drawn-out innuendo. Cogswell says when she asked if the revisions were a suggestion or mandatory, station personnel responded they would not air the original copy.

Station Manager Bob Hermes responds that KPAX’s position in the media market requires that they approach potential advertisement content carefully.

“As a broadcaster we need to have concern for all our potential viewers, which may include small children whose parents may feel the ad as proposed is inappropriate,” he says. “We did talk with the client on a possible change in the script that we could air.”

KPAX, which is owned by Duluth, Minn., broadcasting company Cordillera Communications, handles the local advertising sales for “The CW.”

Comments (4)

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The Missoula Indenpendent does not have to worry about very young children being exposed to some of the crap they decide to print, many times just to prove they can get away with it in the name of Freedom of the Press. The reality is that children do not read the Missoula Independent or for that matter any local Newspaper. Local Television stations such as KPAX and the CW do have a responsibilty to the parents of these children that are watching it's programming. Sure there are programs that are not appropriate for all ages that air on these stations. However, these programs typically air after 9pm and with progam guides and parental ratings it is easy for a parent to control the veiwing of inappropriate content. Inappropriate advertising messages on the other hand offer no such warning. With repsect to Planned Parenthood, their agenda has always been very clear with respect to the abortion rights issue. The fact that a local television station has choosen not get embroiled in such a polarizing issue is just a good business decision.

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Posted by Voice of Reason on 08/31/2008 at 4:57 PM

Debatable. Since KPAX uses the public airwaves for free, I'd argue that they have a responsibility that extends beyond, "the station can conduct its operations any way its people see fit." Also, it seems that the Indy moderators are more tolerant than you imagined.

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Posted by Lawrence on 08/30/2008 at 6:57 PM

Its not necessarily the proper procedure to many folks.But the station can conduct its operations any way its people see fit.I like to say "fuck" alot.And also "fag" and "Alphalfa sprouts".But you can bet this post wont stay up for more than 30 seconds as soon as the first "swingin dick" at the independent sees it.

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Posted by Non-Native Trustafarian on 08/28/2008 at 10:33 PM

I'll bet that KPAX accepts military recruitment ads without question. It is so sad that reasoned information about sex is considered obscene while promotion of organized killing is not.

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Posted by Lawrence on 08/28/2008 at 4:27 PM
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