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Condom Ads on TV: Unwrapping the Controversy

Ever seen a condom advertised on TV? Up until a few years ago, the answer was almost always “no.” But condoms and other topics once considered “taboo” are beginning to make an appearance on the small screen. A number of leading broadcast networks, as well as cable channels have in recent years quietly let go of long-standing policies prohibiting contraceptive commercials. But several others still prohibit advertising for condoms – even though they accept ads for other types of birth control – and those that do run condom commercials often have restrictions about when and how they may be advertised.

What is behind these shifting policies? What has been the experience of those networks that now allow condom ads? Why do some other networks feel comfortable with increasingly sexual programming, but not with condom commercials? How do viewers really feel about condom ads on TV? How much influence does advertising have on the use and choice of contraception? On attitudes toward safer sex?

These are the questions discussed at the Emerging Issues in Reproductive Health Briefing on Tuesday, June 19th in New York City. Vicky Rideout, Vice President for the Study of Entertainment Media and Health, Kaiser Family Foundation discussed network policies as well as presented new findings on public attitudes toward condom advertising. Ms. Rideout moderated a discussion with a panel of experts including Susan Kannel, Senior analyst, Social Policy Research Institute; Richard Kline, Vice President for Marketing, Carter Products, Carter-Wallace, Inc.; Rick Mater, Senior Vice President, Broadcast Standards, The WB Television Network; and Thomas J. Coates, PhD, Director, Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California at San Francisco.

New data on public attitudes toward condom advertising was released.

  • Press Release: Public and Networks Getting Comfortable With Condom Advertising on TV

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.