Pro & Con: Universal McCann Finds It's Mostly The Former For Martha The Con

Martha's Stewart is getting lots of buzz as the launch of her new reality show approaches, but her unfortunate incarceration does appear to have dented attitudes toward her multimedia empire, a new study finds.

The results of four separate surveys by Universal McCann between November 2002 and August 2005 found that although only 2 percent of respondents in the most recent two surveys said they believed Stewart was innocent of insider trading charges--and nearly half of all women surveyed thought Stewart deserved at least as severe a punishment as she received--more than half expressed interest in watching Stewart's new television show, "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart."

Running from the time allegations of insider trading against Stewart were first made public, through her trial and eventual imprisonment and to her present-day parole and attempt to resurrect her media presence, the survey also found that 73.1 percent of women age 18 or older who were contacted said they felt neither more or less positive about companies continuing to advertise their products and services in Martha Stewart Living than they had previously.

Among the same demographic, 74.8 percent said they would feel neither more or less positive about the companies that advertise their products and services on Martha Stewart's new reality TV show.

The final survey queried 500 women 18 and older on their thoughts on Stewart.

"The Apprentice: Martha Stewart" is set to launch September 21.

Last month, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSLO) was buffeted by the resignation of Heidi Diamond, who had served as president of the company since August 2002, and had been credited with spearheading the company's partnership with NBC Universal as well as having an active role in negotiations with Warner Home Video on a new line of company how-to DVD's to go on sale in October.

MSLO has also recently announced partnering arrangements with Discovery Communications to re-broadcast the company's new syndicated television series on The Learning Channel, Sirius Satellite Radio (which is set to broadcast a Martha-inspired channel), and Kmart Corporation, which is set to market a new line of furniture endorsed by Stewart.

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