December #66 : Channel Surfing - by Shana Naomi Krochmal

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Table of Contents

The Viral Lowdown: Can You Believe What She Says?

The Viral Lowdown: Say What

The Viral Lowdown: Word Is Out For New HIVers

The Viral Lowdown: Dishing Out the Denial

The Viral Lowdown: Pharma Flubs Phase IV

The Viral Lowdown: Lack of Leadership Leaves Latinos In Lethal Lurch

The Viral Lowdown: Mystery: Partially Positive

The Viral Lowdown: Prison Death Prompts Probe

The Viral Lowdown: African AIDS Under a TAC

The Viral Lowdown: All Dolled Up: Rx Abuse High Among Gay HIVers


The Viral Lowdown: If Not Now, When? If Not Us, Who?

The Viral Lowdown: News Flash: The Sky Isn't Falling!

The Viral Lowdown: HIVers in Hock to Homophobia

Tales of the (Safer Sex) City

Clean, Sober...and Medicated?

The Secret Plot to Destroy African Americans


The Art Of Living

Summit, Some More

Channel Surfing

Shout Out

Lights! Camera! Handcuffs?

Quick Picks

Life Is Sweet

Packing Meat, Just Barely

A Cell of One’s Own


Doing AIDS Justice

Petal Pusher

Carry On, MP

Milk Got You?

Comfort Zone

Big Science Kicker

Herb Of The Month

Protease Progeny

It Takes Guts

Between A Recovery And A Hard Place

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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December 2000

Channel Surfing

by Shana Naomi Krochmal

Never underestimate the power of a few e-mails—or the pre-programmed conservatism of many television station directors. When marketing mavens at San Francisco’s Better World Advertisingshelled out $170,000 in city health department funds to buy primo time on local channels for a new HIV prevention ad, they assumed they’d circumvented the 3 a.m. slots usually given to free public service announcements.

But KGO-TV, the local ABC affiliate, refused to run the spot—which features one transgendered woman and six bare-chested men with arms crossed over her breasts, all positive and all saying “HIV stops with me”—during The Rosie O’Donnell Show and The Oprah Winfrey Show, the agency’s top picks based on market research. Then KBHK, the UPN affiliate, said it would only OK the ad during late-night repeats of The Simpsons, not the showings at 6 p.m., and Fox affiliate KTVU pre-empted a request to air the ad when the new season of the animated show began.

Their justification? “We have to take into consideration the fact that there are people out there who may be watching with their 6-year-old,” KGO’s David Metz told The San Francisco Chronicle. Better World’s president, Les Pappas, had a one-word comeback: “Homophobia.” He rallied friends and associates to e-mail the stations in protest. Within a week, every station had been “bombarded with e-mails,” Pappas said, and they offered a compromise: prime-time events in lieu of daytime programming, which boosted the value of the original purchases by an estimated 25 percent. Now the spot will be seen during such big-ticket shows as 20/20, The Practice and the season premiere of Ally McBeal. The only station not to shy away in the first place? NBC affiliate KRON, which will air the ad during Will & Grace.
(See the full ad at  

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