Clear Channel Taking Heat for Banning Ads for Women’s Clinic

Women’s rights group Women, Action, & The Media (WAM), one of the organizations that blew the whistle on Facebook’s failure to crack down on misogynistic content this past May, has now set its sites on Clear Channel.

Recently, the South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita, KS, which provides access to full-spectrum reproductive healthcare — including abortion care — tried to run ads for their services on several local radio stations owned by media conglomerate Clear Channel. Clear Channel, however, pulled them off the air for violating “decency standards.” But those same stations, WAM points out, run ads for the local “adult boutique,” without similar concerns about decency.

In response to Clear Channel’s decision, WAM, in partnership with the South Wind Women’s Center, launched the #changethechannel campaign in order to insist that women’s health care is never indecent, and that everyone has the right to know where they can get medical care.

Since the launch of the effort, thousands of citizens in Wichita and across the country have phoned, emailed and tweeted the Wichita Clear Channel office as well as Clear Channel’s corporate representatives, calling on the company to run the ads. Many thousands more have signed petitions to the same effect.

Amidst the uproar, the GM of Clear Channel in Wichita, Rob Burton, left his post on July 31 without public explanation. Burton had been responsible for the final call to pull the ads. A few days before his sudden departure, he had said simply, “As members of the Wichita community, KZSN has a responsibility to use our best judgment to ensure that advertising topics and content are as non-divisive as possible for our local audience.”

Clear Channel has come under fire by some (and has been applauded by others) for making similar decisions in the past. The company declined to display certain ads for a Florida gay pride parade in 2010, for instance.

Jaclyn Friedman, Executive Director of WAM!, said of the campaign, “At a time when access to reproductive health services, including but not limited to abortion, is under ever increasing attack by politicians and anti-choice extremist groups alike, it’s ever more critical that women learn about the services that are still available to them.”

As of this writing, PRNewser’s phone calls seeking a statement from Clear Channel have not yet been returned.