Clear Channel to again air ads from South Wind Women’s Center

South Wind Women's Center  (April 4, 2013)
South Wind Women's Center (April 4, 2013) The Wichita Eagle

Clear Channel has decided to resume airing ads by the South Wind Women’s Center that it pulled off the air last month.

The company made the decision after reviewing its criteria for selecting ads and determining that the South Wind ads didn’t violate the law or Federal Communications Commission standards and weren’t intentionally hateful or incendiary, Tony Matteo, operations manager for Clear Channel in Wichita, said Tuesday.

South Wind, which opened earlier this year to offer reproductive medical services for women, including abortions, had planned to present petitions to Clear Channel on Wednesday containing 68,000 signatures of people who wanted the ads reinstated. The clinic is in the building that formerly housed the clinic of abortion provider George Tiller, who was murdered in 2009.

The ads first ran on Clear Channel’s KZSN, 102.1 FM, on July 1. They were pulled the same day, said Julie Burkhart, South Wind’s executive director.

The center was told the station thought the ads were divisive, she said.

The ads promote the center’s health care services for women and its physicians but don’t mention abortion. Burkhart said that was deliberate.

“We wanted to use language that would appeal to the most people and not offend people who might be opposed to one of the services we offer,” she said.

Other radio stations in Wichita have been running the ads without any problems, she said. Clear Channel owns four stations in Wichita, but the center’s ads ran only on KZSN.

After the ads were pulled, South Wind, along with an organization called Women, Action & the Media, a North American nonprofit that says it seeks gender equity in the media, waged a campaign to get the ads back on the air.

Signatures on the petitions came from men and women who live in the city, state and around the nation, Burkhart said. Others phoned, e-mailed and tweeted the Clear Channel office in Wichita as well as Clear Channel’s corporate representatives.

Burkhart said the center had planned to deliver the petitions to the Clear Channel office in Wichita earlier this month but held off when the company called an Aug. 7 meeting about the issue.

Burkhart said the meeting was cordial. Clear Channel said it needed a week to assess the situation but didn’t call back until Aug. 22, saying it had decided to table the matter until a new hire was made.

So South Wind had decided to deliver the petitions to the Clear Channel office on Wednesday.

“It seemed to me they were trying to run the clock out on us and get us to go away without really getting an answer from them,” Burkhart said.

Matteo didn’t say when the decision to air the ads again was reached or whether the station had received complaints when the ads first ran.

“Based on a thoughtful discussion that we had with the advertiser, we believed that it made sense to take a closer look at the criteria by which we determine whether an advertisement should air,” he said. “While we recognize that certain advertising may stir passionate viewpoints, KZSN has determined that as a responsible broadcaster, we should use our best judgment to accept and run ads that do not violate the law or FCC standards and which are not intentionally hateful and incendiary. KZSN has no bias or political point of view regarding the content of ads we air on our station.”

The ads will start airing again on Labor Day.

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