NEW YORK POST
April 8, 2008
STATIC OVER BANNED JEWISH AD
WQXR, the sleepy classical radio station owned by the New York Times, likes to avoid upsetting listeners with anything remotely controversial - and that has a prominent Jewish group crying foul.
The Manhattan-based American Jewish Committee, founded in 1906 to help "safeguard and strengthen Jews and Jewish life worldwide," says station brass unfairly killed a paid 60-second commentary about bombings carried out against Israel by the militant Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas.
"It's unbelievable. At the end of the day, WQXR listeners are interested in Israel," AJC spokesman Michael Geller told Page Six. In the ad, AJC Executive Director David Harris says:
"Imagine you had 15 seconds to find shelter from an incoming missile. Fifteen seconds to locate your children, help an elderly relative, assist a disabled person to find shelter. That's all the residents of Sderot and neighboring Israeli towns have. Day or night, the sirens go on. Fifteen seconds later, the missiles, fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza, hit . . . Their aim is to kill and wound and demoralize . . . This is what Israelis experience daily."
In a letter to the AJC, WQXR general manager Tom Bartunek said parts of the spot were "outside our bounds of acceptability. First, the opening line . . . does not make clear that the potential target of the missile is not our listening area, and as a consequence, runs the risk of raising anxiety in a misleading way. Second, the description of the missiles as arriving 'day or night' and 'daily' is also subject to challenge as being misleading, at least to the degree that reasonable people might be troubled by the absence of any acknowledgment of reciprocal Israeli military actions."
Geller said Bartunek told the AJC the "general tone" didn't meet WQXR guidelines for "decorum," and the station also bans ads for "hemorrhoid cream or sexual potency pills." CBS Radio had no problem with the same spot, which it aired nationally on newsman Charles Osgood's "The Osgood File."
"We are finished with QXR. We've canceled our contract," Geller told us. "It's a shame, but we can't allow ourselves to be edited on a whim."
In the past, some media critics have accused the Times of having a pro-Palestinian slant. Times flack Catherine Mathis told us the paper "had no role in determining whether to run this ad." She noted WQXR had run eight other AJC spots read by Harris over the past 12 weeks.Date: 4/8/2008