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Soap Controversy #50281

ABC Evening News for Monday, Sep 12, 1977
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(Studio) Controversy over ABC network television show, "Soap", to premier Tuesday night, noted. Questions raised by controversy with regard to rights of network in putting potentially offensive programming on air, and of pressure groups in influencing sponsors and local stations. Item about show on front page of "New York Times" noted.
REPORTER: Barbara Walters

(NYC) (Scenes from "Soap" shown.) Details of show's subject matter, primarily infidelity and homosexuality, noted. Southern Baptist Convention, hdqtrd. in Nashville, Tennessee, says it wants to change tone of all entertainment programming which offends its members and is targeting its campaign against "Soap." Org. says show symbolizes what is wrong with TV programming and is asking stations, sponsors and network to keep it off air. Details of South Baptist Convention's mailing campaign to members with regard to all new programming noted. Convention director Foy Valentine has watched every episode of show previewed so far, taken notes and can recite from them. [VALENTINE - notes episode with homosexual theme. Doesn't think there's room on TV for dirty jokes and trash.] Convention official Dr. Harry Hollis says citizens pressuring advertisers isn't form of censorship. [HOLLIS - thinks it's American free enterprise system working, where people tell those who produce products their feelings.] (ABC closed circuit film, taken July 15, 1977, shown.) ABC programming executive Fred Silverman has been defending "Soap" as new form of adult comedy. [ABC entertainment president Fred SILVERMAN - notes new format for "Soap" in setting up attitude, conflict or dilemma that may not be resolved until later episodes.] Details of show noted. [SILVERMAN - notes that no character is rewarded for immoral behavior and there is, in final analysis, retribution for such behavior.] 15 ABC affiliates aren't going to show "Soap", include one owned by Westinghouse in Baltimore, Maryland. [Westinghouse chairperson Don. McGANNON - notes that 78% of all young people will be viewing television between hrs. of 9:00 and 11:00. Thinks situation is one where station must be sensitive.] ABC affiliate in Providence, Rhode Island, will go ahead with show, as will 179 others. Catholic bishop in Providence condemns show, but doesn't demand its cancellation. [WPRI-TV spokesperson Edwin PFEIFFER - says station didn't think program was strongly enough offensive to any one group and thinks people ought to have ability to make own judgement.] In NYC, among ad agencies, "Soap" has created uneasiness. Ted Bates Company told clients to sponsor other shows. ABC won't say how many sponsors have dropped "Soap" because of pressure; trade journal says perhaps 10 have done so. [Ted Bates ad agency spokesperson Richard PINKHAM - hopes advertisers won't bow down to pressure, because in that case, networks would decide not to try different things.] Effect of controversy on all involved cited.
REPORTER: John Martin

Martin, John;
Walters, Barbara

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