Amid controversy surrounding his racial slur against the Rutgers women’s basketball team, Procter & Gamble and Staples Inc. have pulled their advertising and Bigelow Tea said it was considering doing so.
NEW YORK (AP)—Even if talk show host Don Imus survives the storm of protest swirling around him, his employers are already feeling the effects of his racially charged comments last week as advertisers pull out of his nationally distributed radio show.
General Motors Corp., a significant advertiser on the show, said on Wednesday that it was suspending its advertising but could resume it at a later date.
”This is a very fluid situation, and we’ll just continue to monitor it as it goes forward when he returns to the air,” GM spokeswoman Ryndee Carney said, adding that GM would continue to support Imus’ charitable efforts for children dealing with cancer and autism.
Imus’ show originates on the New York radio station WFAN, owned by CBS Corp., and is distributed nationally on radio by Westwood One. It is simulcast on the MSNBC cable network, which is owned by General Electric Co.’s NBC Universal unit. CBS owns an 18 percent stake in Westwood One and also manages the company.
Procter & Gamble Co. and the office supply chain Staples Inc. have also said they would pull out, and Bigelow Tea said it was considering doing so. How many other advertisers follow suit could depend largely on how Imus handles the fallout from the controversy.
Kim Hillyer, a spokeswoman for TD Ameritrade, said the brokerage was ”evaluating” its continued advertising plans in the program but did not have any further comment.
Imus’ program is worth about $15 million to CBS Corp. through advertising on WFAN and syndication fees received from MSNBC and Westwood One.
A CBS Radio spokeswoman declined to comment on the advertiser actions or to identify other advertisers that may have pulled out of Imus’ shows.
Imus caused an uproar with remarks on an April 4 broadcast when he referred to members of the mostly black Rutgers women’s basketball team as ”nappy-headed hos.”
The comments have been widely denounced by civil rights and women’s groups, and Bruce Gordon, former head of the NAACP who is also a board member of CBS, has told the Associated Press that he hopes that Imus is fired. A CBS spokesman declined to comment on Gordon’s remarks.