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Fox affiliates kill O.J. Simpson’s special

NEW YORK – Several Fox affiliates, including one in Ohio, have chosen not to broadcast “If I Did It,” the two-part special where O.J. Simpson talks in hypothetical terms about his role in the 1994 killing of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Lin Broadcasting and Pappas Broadcasting, which own nine Fox affiliates, said they won’t air it. Fox had scheduled the Simpson interview for Nov. 27 and 29, but News. Corp. said yesterday that it has canceled the special as well as a book where Simpson talks about how he would have committed the murders “if he were the one responsible.”

“After careful consideration regarding the nature of the show, as well as the feedback we received from the viewers of northeast Wisconsin, we determined that this programming was not serving the local public interest,” wrote Jay Zollar, general manager of WLUK-TV in Green Bay.

WLUK is a Lin-owned station as is WUPW-TV in Toledo, Ohio, along with other Fox affiliates in Mobile, Ala.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Providence, R.I.

The Pappas stations said they were not interested in helping Simpson profit from the project. Pappas owns Fox stations in Omaha and Lincoln, Neb.; Fresno, Calif.; and Dakota Dunes, S.D.

There are about 200 Fox affiliates across the country.

Scott Grogin, Fox spokesman, said Sunday the network had no comment about the decision by its affiliates.

Simpson was acquitted in 1995 of murder in a case that became its own television drama. The former football star and announcer was later found liable for the deaths in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the Goldman family.

Judith Regan, publisher of “If I Did It,” said she considered the book to be Simpson’s confession.

The television special will air on two of the final three nights of the November sweeps, when ratings are watched closely to set local advertising rates. It has been a particularly tough fall for Fox, which has seen none of its new shows catch on and is waiting for the January bows of “American Idol” and “24.”

The show is expected to draw high ratings among the curious, but there’s some question about how much Fox can take advantage of it given an expected reluctance of advertisers to be associated with it.

The Fox stations in most of the nation’s biggest cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, are owned by Fox, so they would abide by the network’s decision on what to air.

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