Salt Lake City NBC Affiliate Opts Out of 'The Playboy Club'

SALT LAKE CITY—Less than a week after Morality in Media began its latest campaign, "Close the Club on NBC," which targets NBC's upcoming fall series, The Playboy Club, the campaign has scored its first victory. TV station KSL, owned by Deseret Media Companies (which in turn is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints aka Mormon), has issued a press release stating that the show "will not be part of KSL's fall lineup when the new television season starts in September."

"We've only seen pilots for this and other upcoming NBC shows, so comparing the content of these shows might be difficult at this stage," said Deseret CEO Mark Willes. "The Playboy Club is different in our view in at least one important way, however: It promotes a brand that we just cannot support. We would be helping to build a brand that stands for pornography. For us, that's just untenable. We would never accept an ad from The Playboy Club, just as we don't accept ads for alcohol or gambling."

Deseret, it will be recalled, was the main sponsor of the 10th Annual Conference on Protecting Children and Families from Pornography and Other Harmful Materials, at which Willes was one of the main speakers, and the station went so far as to solicit comments on its decision not to run the show or its ads from Pamela Atkinson, chair of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography—even though the show in question will not even contain any nudity, much less porn.

"The people I work with in the coalition against pornography have been very concerned for many years over the large amount of sexually-explicit material that is available through almost every form of media," Atkinson disingenuously wrote. "On television, in movie theaters, in music, on the internet, virtually everywhere—you can find an outlet for material which we find pornographic, or at least, objectionable."

However, as several commentators have pointed out, KSL seems to have no problem other NBC shows that hew to the edge of sexuality.

"I can say without hesitation that every episode of Law & Order: SVU is more 'adult' than the pilot of The Playboy Club. And KSL has aired almost 300 episodes of that show," wrote Salt Lake Tribune TV columnist Scott D. Pierce. "While not visually graphic, Will & Grace never met a dirty joke it didn't like. And KSL aired nearly 200 episodes of that show."

"Those are but two examples. Let's look through the list of NBC's prime-time shows and try to find one without adult content," Pierce continued. "Looking ... looking ... looking ... Nope, can't find one. There aren't any. The obvious message KSL is sending is—we don't care if a show is adult as long as it doesn't have the word 'Playboy' in the title. And if this one had been called The Gentleman's Club and didn't have the bunny ears and tails, it would be airing on [KSL] this fall."

But Pierce may have overestimated the rationality of the push to censor The Playboy Club. The Morality in Media site devoted to deep-sixing the show claims, with no basis in fact, that, "Throughout its history, Playboy has certainly had an impact on society – encouraging the objectification of women and marketing their pornography with language that implies coercion and violence against women. The dominance of pornography in American society, begun by Playboy, has led to great harms, including child sexual exploitation, greater demand for sex trafficking, addiction and destroyed marriages."

Playboy? "Implie[d] coercion and violence against women"? Wonder what Pat Trueman's been smoking?

As AVN noted in its review of the excellent documentary, Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, "Hefner's late-night television shows, Playboy's Penthouse and later Playboy After Dark, were famous not only for showcasing the 'Playboy style,' but also for the variety of guests who appeared. The film features long excerpts from Sammy Davis Jr.'s and Dick Gregory's appearances, and notes that those segments had to be edited out for re-broadcast in the South... Even the founding of the Playboy Key Clubs was steeped in politics. Originally, Hefner offered the clubs as franchises, but when he found that the owners in Miami and New Orleans were excluding black keyholders from entry, he bought back the franchises and opened them to people of all colors—which didn't sit well with local political leaders and law enforcement."

Though AVN has not seen The Playboy Club's pilot episode, perhaps some of that progressivism will be portrayed in the show.

AVN readers will also recall that Utah ranks number one in the nation for per capita subscribers to adult internet sites, not to mention number one for internet searches for adult content, and currently has the only state Supreme Court-approved excise tax on adult businesses that provide nude entertainment. Hell, women can even be busted if their low-cut blouses show too much areola!

Hypocrisy, thy name is Utah!