Fundamentalist minister Donald E. Wildmon, in his continuing campaign against ABC's controversial new police series "NYPD Blue," claimed Tuesday that 25 ABC affiliate stations have decided not to air the first episode.
ABC officials disputed the figure, saying the number was closer to 16, most of them smaller stations.
Wildmon, head of the American Family Assn., which has staged numerous protests against films and television shows, said he had received written confirmation from stations in Texas, Nebraska, Florida and Georgia that they will not show the show when it premieres Sept. 21.
The series, from producer Steven Bochco, has been targeted by advocate groups because of the unprecedented use of nudity and raw language on a mainstream network prime-time show.
Wildmon's group appears to be concerned with the first episode right now. But Lynn Fairbanks, general manager of WXTL in Tallahassee, Fla., said his station will refuse to carry any episodes of the series. "We were not pleased with some of the language and nudity," he said. "We made this decision without pressure from the American Family Assn."
Wildmon also said that ABC was having trouble selling advertising on the show, and that he expected the network to fill commercial slots with free and offbeat ads.
"ABC must be embarrassed and humiliated at this point," said Wildmon. "This is a victory of sorts. ABC is going to have to do something to save face." He said he expected ABC to force Bochco to make further cuts in the show.
Bochco last month said he had agreed to cut 15 seconds out of a controversial love scene, but that the nudity in the scene, which had caused concern among affiliates and officials, would remain intact. Bochco declined comment Tuesday.
ABC spokesman Stephen Battaglio said the network was not forcing Bochco to make further trims. He added that he did not have an exact count of the affiliates declining to air the show because the show, along with all the other new fall shows, had not been officially booked with the affiliates.
Battaglio also acknowledged that some advertisers had expressed nervousness about the show. "The show has a broad range of advertisers, but we are not sold out," he said. "The show is being sold at a competitive rate for a new program. There are some advertisers who are skittish, and they want a look at the show and what kind of response it will get. One thing that will calm down a skittish advertiser is good ratings."