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KSL will not air 'Playboy Club' in fall

Published: Sunday, June 12 2011 10:35 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — NBC's "The Playboy Club" 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. 'The Playboy Club' is different in our view in at least one important way, however: It promotes a brand that we just cannot support," said Mark Willes, president and chief executive officer of Deseret Media Companies (DMC), the parent company of both KSL and the Deseret News. "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," he said.

DMC this year launched an anti-pornography campaign called "Out in the Light." Airing a show that carries the Playboy name is not something KSL cares to do, said Michelle Torsak, vice president of programming for KSL, who chairs the campaign.

"I'm fairly liberal and I believe the marketplace decides, most of the time, but this is a no-brainer for me. We cannot in good conscience air a brand we don't believe in. There's a lot of creative, clever, fun entertainment out there. Let's look for that," Torsak said.

Torsak has told the network that KSL won't air the program. The station has not yet decided how it will replace the show.

Both Willes and Torsak note the show is not being censored and will, in fact, almost certainly air in this market, picked up by another station. That's what happened when KSL opted not to broadcast "Saturday Night Live."

"It's implausible in today's world to think it's censoring," said Torsak, who noted that programming is so readily available on other stations or over the Internet that the claim simply doesn't work. "But this isn't who we are and we can't in good faith air this."

It's a good decision, according to Pamela Atkinson, chair of the Utah Coalition Against Pornography.

"We know for a fact that there are people who became addicted to pornography after they started off with Playboy," she said. It's an appetite that grows and it also shows women in a demeaning light, "portrayed as sex objects."

Atkinson said while some people associate Playboy with "soft porn," they also have contracts with pay TV channels that play hardcore pornography. And she noted that in an era where one-fourth of teenagers are reportedly sexting — sending suggestive images to friends by text message — "you have to wonder why do we need a series like The Playboy Club," she said.

EMAIL: lois@desnews.com

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