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No One Wants to Sell Simpson Commercial Time on TV

February 2, 1996

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Several cable TV stations and a tabloid newspaper that offered extensive coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial have refused to sell advertising to Simpson for his commercial video _ a rejection his producer calls unfair and even un-American.

The National Enquirer, which has had Simpson on its front page more often than not since the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, rejected an ad for Simpson’s $29.95 made-for-profit, mail-order video because it was deemed ``inappropriate,″ said Brian Williams, Enquirer senior editor.

``There are two reasons,″ Williams said. ``One is the serious nature of the events. There are two dead bodies.″

The other reason, he said, was anticipated reader protests.

``We think it’s inappropriate and our readers have told us that in various ways,″ Williams said. ``I think the crimes speak for themselves. I think those two dead bodies speak more eloquently than we could.″

Video producer Tony Hoffman said no cable station, with the exception of Black Entertainment Television, was willing to sell him air time for the commercial. Simpson did a live interview with BET last week.

``I’m not asking for anything for free,″ Hoffman said. ``I’m asking to buy time. ... This is America and in America a person should have the right to buy TV time.″

Simpson was acquitted Oct. 3 in the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman, but he hasn’t escaped a verbal backlash from those who believe he’s guilty. Women’s groups have focused on his 1989 conviction for spousal abuse.

Cable’s CNBC said it turned down advertising by Simpson for the ``Rivera Live″ show, a program that featured the Simpson case exclusively during the trial.

``It was a management decision,″ said spokeswoman Lauren Leff. But she noted that Geraldo Rivera offered to give Simpson three hours of free air time if he would like to tell his story.

Hoffman said the video ad was appearing on about 60 broadcast stations nationwide, but he declined to name them for fear they would be pressured to drop the commercial.

The Lifetime cable channel turned down the ad.

``It didn’t meet our standards,″ said Brad Henry, a Lifetime spokesman.

Hoffman insists sales are brisk despite the rejections. But he said they would increase if he could advertise. He said Simpson’s lawyers have received a lot of calls asking how to order the video.

The 800-number originally used to publicize the video was canceled after a protest effort was organized to jam the lines with harassing phone calls. Callers now must pay to call in an order.

``Sales have exceeded my expectations for the amount of advertising I’ve done,″ Hoffman said.

The tapes are scheduled to be shipped out on Feb. 15 or 16.

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