Sony reportedly axed a $850,000 (GBP500,000) advertising campaign for Michael Jackson's new album, after his arrest for child molestation.

According to British newspaper the MAIL ON SUNDAY, the record giants pulled the plug on the TV campaign for Jackson's new NUMBER ONES LP last month (NOV03), just days after Santa Barbara, California, officials arrested and charged the singer over allegations he sexually abused a 12-year-old boy at his Neverland ranch.

A source close to the label says, "Sony went into a complete panic. The chairman ordered that the TV campaign be dropped because it was deemed totally inappropriate.

"Unfortunately for Sony, Michael's arrest came in the same week his new album was launched."

A scaled down version of the campaign has since been released, but the source also claims Sony cancelled plans to shoot a video for Jackson's new single ONE MORE CHANCE, which appears on the album - because of the controversy surrounding the singer.

Meanwhile, Jackson has also been ditched by one-time friend, millionaire HARRODS store owner MOHAMED AL FAYED - who has abandoned plans for the superstar to open the London shop's January sale. American actress JENNIFER LOVE HEWITT has been brought in as a late replacement, and will cut the ribbon on 29 January (04).

Jackson was last week (ends19DEC03) formally charged with seven counts of committing lewd acts with a child under 14 and twice administering 'an intoxicating agent' to a child.

21/12/2003 14:51