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Attack on Obama riles Beck's advertisers

Associated Press | 8/26/2009, 5:19 a.m.

“We support vigorous debate, especially around policy issues that affect millions of Americans, but we expect it to be informed, inclusive and respectful,” said spokeswoman Carolyn Castel.

Besides the unpredictability of the opinionated cable hosts, the rapid pace of today’s wired world complicates decisions on where to place ads, said Kathleen Dunleavy, a spokeswoman for Sprint. She said she was surprised at how fast the Beck issue spread across social media outlets and how quickly advertiser names were attached to it.

UPS’ Hallabran said the decision to pull commercials “should not be interpreted as [a statement that] we are permanently withdrawing our advertising from Fox.” He said the company wants to reach viewers with a wide spectrum of opinions.

Except for UPS Stores, there’s no evidence that any advertisers who say they don’t want to be on Beck’s show are leaving Fox. Network spokeswoman Irena Briganti said the companies have simply requested the ads be moved elsewhere and that Fox hasn’t lost any revenue.

She wouldn’t say whether Fox was benefiting from any anti-anti-Beck backlash, with companies looking to support him. Some Beck supporters have urged fans to express their displeasure at companies for abandoning their man.

Beck supporters have suggested that retaliation might have something to do with ColorofChange.org’s campaign. One of the group’s founders, Van Jones, now works in the Obama administration and has been criticized by Beck. But Rucker said Jones has nothing to do with ColorofChange.org now and didn’t even know about the campaign before it started.

Beck’s strong ratings — even at 5 p.m. EDT, he often outdraws whatever CNN and MSNBC show in prime time — make it unlikely that he is going anywhere, even as the list of advertisers avoiding him grows.

But it could mean advertising time becomes cheaper on his show than such a large audience would normally command. Some of his show’s recent advertisers included a male enhancement pill, a law firm looking to sue on behalf of asbestos victims, a company selling medical supplies to diabetics and a water filter company.

Rucker said ColorofChange.org has contacted about 60 companies regarding Beck, and is heartened by the response.

“It’s causing a certain conversation around Beck, which I think is important,” he said.

(Associated Press)