September 19, 2014 / 8:14 PM / 4 years ago

L.A. pulls 'unacceptable' ads for Fox TV show from buses

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Los Angeles transit officials have pulled posters for a new Fox television network off nearly 200 buses after deeming the language used to describe actress Octavia Spencer’s character inappropriate, a spokesman said on Friday.

A sign is pictured at the entrance Fox Television Center in Los Angeles, California February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn

The ads, part of a nationwide campaign to promote the hospital comedy-drama “Red Band Society,” were pulled from the buses earlier this week after the chief of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s found that they could be “perceived as sexist or racist,” MTA spokesman Mark Littman said.

The ad features the major characters of “Red Band Society” sitting or standing against a wall, each with an appellation such as “the hot doc,” “mean girl” or “coma boy.” Next to Spencer, who is dressed in dark red nurse’s scrubs, are the words “scary bitch.”

“He looked at them said ‘these are clearly not acceptable’,” Littman said of CEO Art Leahy. “We don’t run ads on our buses trains involving sex, liquor or gambling or that in any way perpetuate stereotypes.”

The day after Leahy ordered the placards removed several dozen people came to an MTA board meeting to protest them, Littman said.

Littman said vendor CBS Outdoor screens the ads and typically consults with the MTA when one is controversial but in this case did not bring it to the agency’s attention.

“The advertisement depicts the nicknames of the characters used in the television series,” CBS Outdoor said in a written statement.  “Once we were made aware of public concern, we immediately began to remove the advertisements.”

Mayor Eric Garcetti subsequently has asked the agency to “tighten up procedures” so that offensive advertising doesn’t appear on buses.

“We were notified yesterday morning of the concern around the ads, and immediately offered to remove the language,” a Fox spokeswoman said in a written statement.

“Metro Los Angeles ultimately decided to take down the ads, and we respect that decision. We sincerely apologize if the copy was offensive to viewers,” the spokeswoman said.

According to a Fox website, the show is “a provocative, unconventional and unique coming-of-age dramedy about a group of rule-bending friends and the adults who mentor them through the ups and downs of adolescence.”

“Red Band Society” is set in a fictional Los Angeles hospital.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Sandra Maler

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