Fox News' "Glenn Beck" loses advertisers

Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:00pm EDT

NEW YORK (Nielsen Business Media) - Some of the nation's biggest advertisers are distancing themselves from Fox News host Glenn Beck after he called President Obama a racist during a July 28 broadcast.

Geico has pulled its ads from Fox News Channel's "The Glenn Beck Program." Lawyers.com, which is owned by LexisNexis, also has vowed not to advertise during the program, according to Color of Change, an African-American online political organization that has been urging advertisers to stop supporting the show.

Additionally, Procter & Gamble, Progressive Insurance and SC Johnson all said their ad placements during the broadcast were made in error and that they would correct the mistake.

The controversy stems from Beck's comment that President Obama is a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people."

Geico spent more than a half-billion dollars on ads last year, according to the Nielsen Co. It spent more than a quarter-billion dollars in the first half of 2009.

A Fox representative noted that Geico is dropping its ads from the show but was quick to note that it was shifting dollars to other programs. "The advertisers referenced have all moved their spots from Beck to other programs on the network, so there has been no revenue lost," the rep said.

Beck's show pulled in an average of slightly more than 2 million viewers for each of its 19 telecasts in July, according to Nielsen.

Progressive Insurance representative Cristy Cote said that there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the company's involvement with the program. "We had not bought advertising on the show in the first place," she said, "so when we learned that our advertising had appeared on the show by mistake, we contacted the network to correct the error."

She said Progressive tries to "avoid programing that we believe our customers and potential customers might find extremely offensive."

A Procter & Gamble representative echoed that sentiment: "At times our ads are run by mistake on shows that they were not meant to ... Any of our ads that ran did so by mistake, and we'll try to make sure that doesn't happen in the future."

(Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters)

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