Baby Stays, Gun Gone From Station’s Ad

DALLAS A Dallas radio station’s commercial showing a baby in the crosshairs of a rifle scope was shot down by Comcast Cable, but a less sensational version of the spot will air through Feb. 6, the company said.

The ad, designed to raise alarm about the threat of terrorism, is part of talk-show station KLIF-AM’s January campaign that includes two billboards that have also generated debate in the local media. KLIF, a unit of Susquehanna Radio, features right-leaning news commentary, along with shows such as Dr. Laura, a forum for conservative advice on family issues.

One billboard shows Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden against a background of flames and the words “Some people want you dead.” The other billboard has pictures of Saddam Hussein, late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and bin Laden. The words “Caught,” “Dead” and “Next” appear under their respective photos. The headline: “Two Down, One to Go.”

While Viacom Outdoor agreed to display the two ads on about 20 area billboards, one was rejected, according to KLIF program manager Jeff Hillery.

“It was called ‘Unthinkable’ and showed a terrorist with dynamite strapped to his chest, standing next to a school zone,” he said. That ad now appears on the KLIF Web site.

Opinions pro and con on the billboards have been evenly split, Hillery said.

When Comcast balked at running a TV spot that shows parents holding their baby as the child is targeted in a gun sight, KLIF had a backup version with less caustic visuals (no gun sights) and a sound effect that indicates something tragic has happened. “I think they thought the original was a little too overt,” said Heather Hall, executive producer of radio ventures for AMS Production Group, which produced the spot.

According to Comcast, removal of the gun sight was “a minor touch-up,” but KLIF thought so much of the original that the station ran it on its Web site as an ad that local stations “refused to run.”

“They told us, ‘There’s no way we’re running this,'” Hillery said. “We told them, ‘With all the sex and violence on cable, it’s just incredible that you would ban this.'”

Karen Lincoln, vp and general manager of Comcast Spotlight, said negotiations ended amicably and “we look forward to serving them in the future.”

Hillery said the controversy was not unintended and that the publicity has “stirred the pot” of local interest.

The ad campaign was developed in-house at KLIF, with AMS brought in for production services, Hillery said.