• Good for KSL!

    by  • May 6, 2013 • Broadcast Decency, Misrated, Violence • 3 Comments

    With TV networks constantly pumping ever-more explicit violence, nudity, and graphic sex over the publicly-owned airwaves, it is nice to find one TV station that still understands the concept of operating “in the public interest.”

    The management of Salt Lake City NBC affiliate KSL announced recently that they would no longer carry NBC’s horrific prime-time series about a cannibalistic serial killer, Hannibal– a program which is Misrated, and which the PTC has named the Worst TV Show of the Week.

    This isn’t the first time KSL has shown its courage in standing up to the Comcast-NBCUniversal behemoth. In fall of 2011, the station also refused to air the sleazy, pro-pornography prime-time drama The Playboy Club, which NBC similarly tried to force into every home in America – using the airwaves the American people own. Now, KSL is refusing to promote Hannibal’s grotesque violence: “Due to the extensive graphic nature” of Hannibal, KSL said on its Facebook page, “after viewing the past few episodes, as well as receiving numerous complaints from viewers, KSL-TV will cancel the airing of the NBC show Hannibal on Thursday evenings.”

    Imagine that: a TV station, licensed by the government to operate “in the public interest,” that actually cares what its viewers say, considers “community standards,” and does something about them. What a pity more TV stations fail to do the same.

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    About

    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    3 Responses to Good for KSL!

    1. William Warfield
      May 12, 2013 at 2:07 am

      Ah, if only those days would return again and stay.

      I remember in 1973, when I was 11 years old and living in Lansing, Michigan, WJIM-TV, Channel 6 (now known as WLNS-TV), the CBS affiliate, *really* cared about the community; they refused to air the rerun of the infamous “Maude” episode “Maude’s Dilemma,” instead airing a syndicated 1960′s CBS Sports special (on film). And, two years later WJIM obtained the broadcast rights to the syndicated reruns of “Wild, Wild West,” but quickly yanked the show off their schedule (and annulled their contract with syndicator Viacom, now known as CBS Television Distribution) after receiving numerous complaints from concerned parents that the program was too violent for a 5:00 P.M. time slot.

      Mr. James Gross, who was the Vice President of WJIM (the station’s former call letters were in his honor), *definitely* had the community standards of the city of Lansing, Michigan in his mind.

      So, kudos to the General Manager of KSL in Salt Lake City for thinking about his public and not airing “Hannibal.” I can only hope NBC didn’t bully the station into dropping them as an affiliate just because they refuse to air this sick program, but if I ran a station and wanted to consider viewers’ wishes rather than “Hollyweird’s,” I wouldn’t care if I became an independent (a non-network-affiliated station) if it meant thinking of community standards. I could always fill the schedule with local programming and reruns of classic TV shows and movies from the “good old days.”

      I hope KSL has revived a trend that will continue across the country. Indeed, good for them!

      • Christopher Gildemeister
        May 14, 2013 at 10:11 am

        Thus far, NBC has not dropped KSL as an affiliate; nor can it legally bully the station into carrying programming KSL (or any station) finds problematic. Legally, every affiliate has the right to reject any program it feels is not “in the public interest.” In 2008, in a joint agreement with the networks and the National Affiliated Stations Alliance, the FCC prohibited any contracts between networks and affiliates which might “prevent or hinder the station from rejecting or refusing network programs which the station reasonably believes to be unsatisfactory or unsuitable or contrary to the public interest.” [FR Doc. E8-23152]

        In spite of this fact, one often hears station owners claiming that “our contract says we have to carry” programming viewers object to. (Several did in the case of The Playboy Club mentioned above.) From this, one concludes that either the station owners are 1) ignorant of the rights they themselves fought for and asked the FCC to rule on, or 2) suffer from convenient lapses in memory.

        It is the affiliates who hold broadcast licenses, and who are on the hook for any violations of broadcast decency law, not the networks. It’s a pity more affiliates don’t understand their vulnerability — or exercise their rights.

        Thank you for your comment!

    2. William Warfield
      May 25, 2013 at 7:47 am

      You’re quite welcome.

      However, after doing some research I discovered I made an error.

      According to an article in the September 10, 1973 issue of Broacasting Magazine, WJIM-TV in Lansing, Michigan was airing the “Wild, Wild West” reruns in *1973, not* 1975 as I originally stated. After receiving complaints from two local groups – Citizens United for Better Broadcasting and the Lansing Committee for Children’s Television – WJIM was in the process of preparing to yank “Wild, Wild West” off their afternoon schedule (I believe that happened in late November 1973).

      In September 1975, WJIM aired the syndicated reruns of another Western, the second and final decade of “Gunsmoke” (the color episodes which CBS originally aired from September 1965 through September 1975), and which, like “Wild, Wild West,” was syndicated by Viacom/CBS (the “Gunsmoke” color reruns were released exactly two weeks after the series left CBS, on Monday, September 15, 1975). Apparently, this series received little to no complaints from concerned parents as WJIM kept “Gunsmoke” on their afternoon schedule at 5:00 P.M. for the next five years.

      I’m not sure what program WJIM aired between the time they pulled “Wild, Wild West” off and began running “Gunsmoke;” perhaps it was “The Big Valley.” Still, as I said before, it was good to know James Gross *really* cared about his viewers in Lansing, Michigan and catered to their wishes accordingly. Pity it seems only KSL in Salt Lake City, Utah is the only station in the entire country to do this now (*more* power to them, however)..

      Again, I regret the error on my part.

      Thank you!

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