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.”