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Fox strikes back at WEEI; pulls all advertising from station

The fallout from the WEEI/Erin Andrews controversy has now reached new heights. It began the day after the MLB All-Star Game when WEEI morning show co-host Kirk Minihane called Fox Sports’ Erin Andrews a “gutless bitch” and then a week later, made an apology laced with a tirade about Andrews being a waitress had she been 15 pounds heavier.

A day later, NESN announced it was pulling its video simulcast of the show stating its decision had nothing to do with Minihane’s comments. Boston.com reported that Fox was considering taking action against WEEI’s parent company, Entercom, which owns 101 stations across the country.

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The action came late Friday when Fox announced it was pulling advertising from all of Entercom’s stations. This means ads for all of its entertainment programming including movies and television and not just for sports from the station chain. So WEEI and the other Entercom stations won’t get revenue from spots promoting Fox’s primetime programming such as 24, American Idol, The X Factor, The Simpsons and any upcoming movies.

In addition, Fox Sports will not allow its talent to appear on WEEI for the foreseeable future.

Fox Sports President Eric Shanks wrote the following letter to Entercom CEO David Feld informing him of the network decision:

“By now you are no doubt aware of the incidents that occurred on-air at your Boston station WEEI on July 15 and again on July 22. I am referring to the obnoxious comments made by Kirk Minihane on the “Dennis and Callahan” show regarding one of our Fox on-air personalities, Erin Andrews.

“As we have previously stated to various media outlets, the comments made by Mr. Minihane were boorish and sexist. Further, the “apology” made by Mr. Minihane was juvenile and insincere. To make matters worse, the “apology” was posted under a banner (allegedly approved by your Boston VP and Market Manager, Phil Zachary) hailing ‘The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane.’

“I had hoped by this time we might hear a sincere apology from WEEI, or perhaps someone from your office might have reached out to Fox (which through our film and television businesses is a significant advertiser on Entercom stations). However, none of that has been forthcoming, and needless to say we are disappointed.

“I have discussed this issue with our senior management and our various senior marketing executives. At their recommendation, I am writing to inform you that going forward Fox’s entertainment and sports businesses will not be advertising on your stations for the foreseeable future.

“I regret that we need to take this action, but as one of our executives reminded me, “sometimes you need to vote with your feet.”

“I trust you will discuss our decision with your staff at WEEI.”

Minihane has not commented since Fox made its decision. There’s no word if Entercom will take any disciplinary action as a result of Fox pulling its advertising.

UPDATE: The Globe’s Chad Finn reports that WEEI has finally taken action themselves, suspending Minihane for a week.

And WEEI has issued the following statement on Minihane’s suspension:

“Kirk Minihane’s statements regarding Erin Andrews were offensive and deplorable. It is clear by the response from our listeners, advertisers, and employees that Kirk’s efforts to apologize and make this right have been insufficient and ambiguous. We want to make it unequivocally clear that his comments were unacceptable and do not reflect Entercom’s values and standards. As a result, we have suspended Kirk for the upcoming week.”

[Boston Globe]

Ken Fang

About Ken Fang

Ken has been covering the sports media in earnest at his own site, Fang's Bites since May 2007 and at Awful Announcing since March 2013. He provides a unique perspective having been an award-winning radio news reporter in Providence and having worked in local television. Fang celebrates the three Boston Red Sox World Championships in the 21st Century, but continues to be a long-suffering Cleveland Browns fan.

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