'The Playboy Club': PTC still hasn't seen it, still against it

playboy-club-premiere.jpgControversy surrounding the upcoming NBC show "The Playboy Club" continues hop up as the Parents Television Council has exhorted NBC affiliates to pull the program. In a letter dated July 25, PTC President Tim Winter told stations, "[I] urge you ... to preempt the program in your community" citing concerns over potential salacious content. The letter also states "NBC is breaking the law with this show," that according to the Pink Cross Foundation, a faith-based organization for former pornography industry employees.

The show, which features Amber Heard, Naturi Naughton and Laura Benanti, focuses on the lives of the famed Bunnies as well as clientele of the original Playboy Club in 1960s. The Playboy Club was a nightclub started by Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner in its then headquarters of Chicago.

When discussing PTC's unease, Director of Communications and Public Education Melissa Henson acknowledged neither she nor anyone at the PTC has seen anything of the show beyond the commercials. "NBC isn't eager to share that with us," she tells Zap2it.

NBC, which just started show production, has already spent time quelling concerns about the program. At the May upfronts, NBC's entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt told media buyers the show will be "tame compared to what you'd see on 'Jersey Shore.'" But this explanation did little to soothe Salt Lake City's NBC affiliate which announced in June it would not air the period drama. KSL is owned by Bonneville International Corporate, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Within days, Salt Lake City's MyNetworkTV affiliate agreed to pick up the series.

According to Henson, the PTC campaign has gained little traction. Outside of the KSL withdrawal, which predated the PTC letter, no additional stations have expressed any interest in pulling the show. The PTC letter also asked station owners to cease airing "The Playboy Club" promos before 10 pm.

UPDATE: In a statement, NBC countered concern about the show with, "The content of 'The Playboy Club' will be consistent with broadcast network standards and the show will carry an appropriate rating."

For the full text of the PTC letter, see below.


July 25, 2011

Dear Sir or Madam:

About 200,000 Americans are "porn addicts" - meaning they spend 11 hours or more per week looking at pornography. Forty percent of sex addicts lose their spouses, 58% suffer financial losses, one third lose their jobs. Pornography use increases the risk of marital infidelity by more than 300%. Fifty-six percent of divorce cases involved one person having an obsessive interest in pornography. Severe clinical depression is reported twice as frequently among pornography users as among non-users.

I call these statistics to your attention because I assume you must be unaware of how damaging the pornography industry is to our society, to our families, and to individuals. Otherwise, how on earth could you, in good conscience, agree to broadcast in your community a program that glorifies and glamorizes this insidious industry?

I am referring, of course, to NBC's plans to air "The Playboy Club" this fall and am writing to urge you, on behalf of the Parents Television Council's 1.3 million members, to preempt the program in your community.

The PTC has received from its members a number of canned responses from NBC affiliates across the country, praising the upcoming series as "a sophisticated series about the transitional times of the early 1960s and the complex lives of a group of working-class women."

Putting a veneer of sophistication on an industry that exploits women and destroys families is not laudable, it is disgraceful. In what manner does such the airing of such material reconcile with your public interest obligations as a broadcast licensee? Whatever positive spin you may wish to put on the series, it is undeniably a betrayal of the trust you have built over the years with America 's families - the owners of the broadcast airwaves that you will be using to force this content into the living rooms of every family in your community.

According to Shelley Lubben, founder of the Pink Cross Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping victims of the pornography industry, "What's shown in The Playboy Club is not real...The series looks like it's all cute, taking place back in the old days. It seems harmless, but then they show a quick clip of three people going at it in the bathroom. NBC is breaking the law with this show. They're not meeting FCC standards."

If you proceed with plans to air this series in your community, be assured that the Parents Television Council will be carefully reviewing every episode and will urge its members to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission about any content that may be in violation of broadcast decency laws.

Please be mindful that it is the affiliate, not the network, that will ultimately bear the financial burden of an FCC fine should any of the content be found to violate broadcast decency laws.

In a recent declaratory ruling, the FCC affirmed affiliates' ability to pre-empt any network programming that is "unsatisfactory or unsuitable or contrary to the public interest." The record on this is clear: contracts between networks and their affiliates may not legally prevent preemption of programming that does not meet LOCAL COMMUNITY standards. As a station manager you not only have a right, but an obligation to preempt programs like The Playboy Club that fail to meet that standard.

Utah NBC affiliate KSL has already announced that it would not be showing The Playboy Club, stating that the station's values are "completely inconsistent with the Playboy brand."

Is the Playboy brand consistent with your station's values? Broadcast stations are required by law to take into account the public interest. How does this program serve the public interest? Would members of your community agree?


We are also disturbed by the number of promos for The Playboy Club airing during ostensibly family-friendly programs like America's Got Talent which air early in the evening. This is inexcusable. There can be no possible justification for exposing children to this kind of content, even inside a network promotion. We insist that you immediately stop airing promos or advertisement for The Playboy Club before 10:00 p.m.

Sincerely,

Timothy F. Winter, President
Parents Television Council
Photo/Video credit: NBC
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