WorldCom Pulls WWF Advertising

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _T here won't be any more body slams paid for by WorldCom Inc. The Clinton-based telecommunications company said Thursday it has pulled its advertising from ``WWF Smackdown,'' a nationally televised program that features wrestlers with the World Wrestling Federation. The company was criticized by entertainer turned television reformer Steve Allen at its annual meeting June 1 for advertising on the program. Allen, the honorary chairman of the Parents Television Council, said the group had sent several letters to WorldCom asking the advertising be pulled, but received no response. He asked WorldCom president and CEO Bernie Ebbers to stop the ads. Ebbers said he wasn't aware of the program and promised to look into the advertising. In a letter dated June 9 to the PTC, Ebbers said he and the company shared ``your concerns and agree whole heartedly that advertising on WWF Smackdown is not appropriate.'' He also wrote that the program, which features wrestlers competing and brawling with one another, ``is not the kind of programming MCI WorldCom wants to be associated with.''

Gary Davis, a spokesman for Stamford, Conn.-based World Wrestling Federation Entertainment Inc., said he respected WorldCom's decision. ``Companies make their decisisons on advertising changes. We continue to have a strong stable of advertisers who do find 'Smackdown' to be an effective advertising vehicle in reaching their target audiences,'' he told The Associated Press. A WorldCom spokesman confirmed its advertising on the program was suspended. According to ``Advertising Age,'' WorldCom spent more than $218 million on television advertising in 1998. Allen said he was happy the company agreed to pull its advertising. ``I am pleased that MCI WorldCom has joined the other ranks of other corporate giants who refuse to sponsor programming that not only glamorizes violence to small children, but also treats them to heavy does of violence, racial stereotyping, foul language, graphic sexual innuendo and sexist comments,'' Allen said.

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