Big advertisers and sponsors were conspicuous by their absence from yesterday’s first airing of the latest series of the Dr Laura Schlessinger TV talkshow.

The apparent boycott follows a summer of protest by gay and lesbian lobbyists at uncomplimentary remarks about homosexuals made by the doc during her last series. The activists had urged mainstream advertisers and sponsors to withdraw their support from the widely syndicated programme.

Among yesterday’s reduced crop of advertisers, only a few known brand names were on show – Lipton’s Brummel & Brown sandwich spread, Kimberly-Clark’s Scott bathroom tissue and Summer's Eve, a feminine hygiene product from the C B Fleet Company.

Paramount Domestic Television in Los Angeles put a brave face on the boycott: "We continue to believe `Dr. Laura' is an advertiser-friendly program offering an attractive demographic for national advertisers," said network co-president Joel Berman. He added that Paramount is "committed to presenting society's moral and ethical issues without creating or contributing to an environment of hurt, hate or intolerance".

News source: New York Times