Only 13 Black newspapers added to court-approved plan for tobacco apology ads

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After months of delay, the U.S. District Court has ruled on a plan submitted by tobacco companies to place ads that apologize for deceiving the public about the dangers of smoking. Judge Gladys Kessler ordered that the revised plan, which added  only 13 Black newspapers, can now go forward.

Judge Kessler ordered the tobacco firms to revise the media buying plan after it was disclosed by Target Market News in January that not one Black media outlet was included in the original plan submitted and approved by the U.S. Justice Dept. Briefs underscoring the omission of Black media were submitted The National Newspaper Publishers Association and The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters.

The original media buying list devised by the tobacco firms placed full-page ads in the Sunday editions and websites of 34 daily newspapers. It also included prime time ads on three television networks — ABC, CBS and NBC. There were no radio stations in the original or revised media plan. The overall value of the “apology ads” ads was estimated by media professionals at approximately $40 million.

In delaying the implementation of the original plan, Judge Kessler said that the concern over African-Americans not being reached was appropriate. Tobacco lawyers countered that the general market newspapers and TV networks would reach more of the African American population than the Black media targeted directly to it.

The 13 Black newspapers added, the court said, would supplement any diminution in Black audience that might occur in smaller markets. The Black newspapers added are Arizona Informant; Denver Weekly News; Inner-City News (CT); Gary Crusader (IN); Louisville Defender; Insight News (Minn.); St. Louis American; Omaha Star; Ohio City News; Black Chronicle (OK); Portland Skanner; Seattle Skanner; and Milwaukee Courier.

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