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An ad is an ad is an ad.

Viewers don't care whether they see ads on commercial or public TV, says John Abel of Michigan State University. He was surprised to find that viewer attitudes ranged from indifferent to positive on the use of commercials in public broadcasting. But his polling of 5,000 viewers took place before the ads started appearing on public TV in a 10 city experiment.

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Next summer Abel will check to see if opinion has shifted. It's all part of the congressional search for alternate financing sources for public TV. A commission recommended continued federal support. But few budget watchers think Congress can afford to follow that bid. Accordingly, Capitol Hill is sure to keep a close eye on the experiment.

So far ad restrictions have been strict: no more than four minutes of commercials an hour and no program interruptions.

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