The Multinational Monitor


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ABC: Editorial Time for Those Who Can Afford It

As they have long done in newspapers and magazines, corporations will soon be able to buy exposure on the airwaves to express their views on political issues. American Broadcasting Company (ABC) announced in mid-March that "it will accept for broadcast on a one year experimental basis, beginning July 1, 1981, a limited number of commercial messages that discuss national controversial issues of public importance," ABC thus becomes the first network to venture into the area of paid "issue advertising."

ABC will apply certain guidelines during the "experiment," including restricting any one sponsor to a single one minute advertisement a week, to be aired on "late-night entertainment programming." The network also reserves the right to decide which issues are national, controversial, and of public importance.

Mobil Oil, one of the more aggressive companies when it comes to advocacy advertising in newsprint, was quick to look ' into the matter, holding a meeting with ABC at the end of March. But Mobil did not like what it found. "We want the , same opportunity as newspapers give us, which is an unfettered opportunity to say what we wish, and they are not offering us that," complained Herb Schmertz, Mobil's vice president for public affairs. "They will not allow us to correct errors we discover in their evening newscasts."

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