No more Dr Laura

Canned in Canada

The gay man mostly responsible for getting more than 40 advertisers to boycott the Dr Laura TV show is “elated” that all Global-owned stations have dumped the program.

“This is such a display of what Canada’s all about, that Canadians won’t tolerate this garbage,” says Colin Brownlee, a Vancouver man who became an activist over Dr Laura’s show. “The US has a lot to learn from us.”

Dr Laura Schlessinger’s show, filmed in the US, debuted mere weeks ago.

She also has a syndicated radio call-in program where she’s called gay men and lesbians “biological errors” and “deviant,” and equated homosexuality with paedophilia.

The Global announcement came Oct 4. The show went off the air in Canada – including off Hamilton’s ONTV airwaves – three days later.

Brownlee was chiefly responsible for getting 40 major advertisers to agree to stop buying time on the TV program.

Near the end, it appeared BCTV couldn’t give away advertising spots on the new show. BCTV had been giving corporations “bonus” ads on the controversial show, hosted by the anti-gay US physiologist.

Staff at some of those advertisers insisted they were unknowingly given the spots, and asked the network to stop.

Brownlee started his campaign in the summer, when he was treated rudely by a BCTV staffperson when he called to complain about plans to broadcast the new Dr Laura show. He compiled an e-mail list of more than 1,000 supporters and started raising hell.

But according to BCTV’s vice-president of national programming, it was low ratings – and not public pressure – that killed Dr Laura.

Roy Gardner says he doesn’t want to belittle the efforts of Brownlee and others, but he says the show was just getting bad ratings in an important time slot.

“Plain and simple, the show has not been performing,” says Gardner.

Schlessinger’s TV presence has also drawn a tide of activism south of the border.

In the US, Schlessinger’s show has been put on a re-tooling hiatus after scoring low ratings.

She has since boasted that the new format is “the TV show I always wanted.”

Gardner isn’t ruling out bringing back the show if it does better in the US, but says the re-tooling bodes badly.

But Brownlee doesn’t believe ratings killed Dr Laura. “Of course they’re going to say that. They’ve got egg all over their face. I’m ashamed of them, though. They should have copped to it.

“I mean 50 major advertisers said ‘fuck you’ – and that didn’t mean anything?”

These are the advertisers which pulled their ads from the Dr Laura show: Mazda, Richmond Auto Mall, Maple Leaf foods, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Bell Canada, Sleep Country, Xerox, CIBC, Clearnet, Norwich Union, General Motors Canada, IGA, Certified General Accountants of BC, Mikes Restaurants, the Information And Technology Institute, Novartis (pet products), The Bay, Zellers, Canon Canada, Burnbray Farms, General Mills, Leon’s, Procter & Gamble Canada, The Brick, Storck Canada, Canadian Tire, The Keg, Lotto Quebec, Loeb Foods, Coca Cola, David Copperfield, Kimberly-Clark, Michelin, Petcare, Canadian Blood Services and


These are the advertisers who refused to pull their ads from the Dr Laura show: McCain Foods, Maytag, Frito Lay, Kodak, McDonald’s, Primus Canada, Ford, Church & Dwight (makers of Arm & Hammer), Serta, Dairy Queen, General Electric, Carter GM and Hyundai. They’re all listed in the telephone book.

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Power, Politics, Toronto

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