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Cronkite to Star in Ad Praising ‘Free’ Television

Launching the first of two major campaigns to combat inroads made by cable television in their viewership and advertising support, the three major networks and commercial television stations on Monday will air an ad in which Walter Cronkite praises “free TV,” officials said Tuesday.

“It’s the first time anything like this has ever happened,” CBS spokesman George Schweitzer said, referring to the massive exposure for the commercial featuring the former CBS anchorman.

The 30-second ad will air one time only at the start of prime time on Monday night. Schweitzer estimated that more than 1,000 stations will broadcast it as part of a yearlong effort by the National Assn. of Broadcasters to remind viewers of the virtues of over-the-air commercial television.

Meanwhile, the broadcast industry’s Television Bureau of Advertising said Tuesday that it will be launching a campaign of its own in Jan. 22--a series of “image commercials” for “free” TV that it estimated could be worth $100 million in air time.

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That effort will feature eight commercials a week about what one official called “the value and impact” of over-the-air commercial TV.


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