Comcast blames human error for spot running during 'Rugrats'
11:59 PM CST on Friday, February 20, 2004
By JEANNE SPREIER / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News
Think of it as a car entering the wrong on-ramp to an interstate.
But in this case, the "trafficking error" aired a condom commercial during an after-school Nickelodeon show in a small portion of Comcast cable's Dallas service area.
Because of human error, the condom ad appeared on the kids' network at 3:51 p.m. Tuesday instead of on another network, said Biff Niven, vice president and general manager of Comcast Spotlight.
The advertising and sales division of Comcast is "taking additional measures to make sure it doesn't happen again," with an extra person checking the ad schedule, he said.
The glitch, which affected programming for about 5 percent of Dallas-Fort Worth subscribers, comes on the heels of several weeks of controversy for Viacom, parent company of Nickelodeon, CBS and MTV, the cable network involved in Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl halftime show.
Nickelodeon's policies bar adult products from being advertised, said spokesman David Bittler.
Mr. Niven said he knows of no similar incident in his four years with the company.
The ad clearly caught Karen Caldwell's sixth-grade son by surprise. "He came to me and said, 'Mom, there was a commercial for condoms during Rugrats All Grown Up,' " the Dallas resident recalled.
He even repeated the commercial's tagline for his mother. At the end, viewers heard, the brand was "her choice."
Jeanne Spreier writes the Kids' TV column in Sunday's TV Week magazine.