Glenn Beck prompts U.K. stores to pull ads

Waitrose supermarket chain responds to customer concerns

LONDON -- Upscale British supermarket chain Waitrose said Monday that it is pulling its advertisements from Fox News in the U.K. after customers complained about the cable news channel's Glenn Beck program.

The popular and controversial talk show host is already the target of a boycott campaign in the U.S. after he accused President Barack Obama of harboring "a deep-seated hatred for white people."

Waitrose, known for its upmarket fare and focus on organic foods, said it was responding to customer concerns, and that the move was not politically motivated.

The wide coverage afforded to Beck's tirade against the U.S. president and the subsequent boycott campaign has also been noticed in Britain -- where Fox owner Rupert Murdoch controls a powerful news and broadcasting empire.

Color of Change, the group that has lobbied advertisers to steer clear of Beck's show, claims that more than 60 U.S. companies, including Wal-Mart, have deserted the television host.

Last month the Independent newspaper quoted James Rucker, Color of Change's executive director, as urging British companies to put similar pressure on Fox in the U.K., where it is broadcast by British Sky Broadcasting -- a satellite TV service 39% owned by Murdoch's News Corp.

Although most U.S. companies who have dropped Beck's program still continue to advertise on other segments of Fox News, Waitrose spokesman James Armstrong said the company was pulling out of the channel as a whole.

He declined to say how much money was involved in the ad deal, calling the information commercially sensitive. Sky Broadcasting, which looks after Fox News advertising sales in Britain, did not provide a figure either.

Sky reaches about 9 million homes in the U.K. and Ireland. Fox News did not return a call seeking comment.