SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Mormon church-owned NBC affiliate in Utah won’t air an upcoming sitcom about a gay couple that invites a surrogate mother into their home as they try to have a baby because the station deems the content inappropriate for its audience.
“The New Normal” is set to debut Sept. 11 on NBC.
“For our brand, this program simply feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time,” Jeff Simpson, CEO of KSL’s parent company, Bonneville International, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said in a statement.
“The dialogue is excessively rude and crude; the scenes are too explicit and the stereotypes are offensive on all sides,” Simpson added.
NBC defended the program, noting it makes “a statement about the changing definition of the nuclear family.”
“The show is against bigotry and hatred in every form and will make that point whenever characters say outrageous or unacceptable things about race, religion, sexual identity, disability, or tolerance of people outside the definitions of ‘normal,’” the network said in a statement Monday.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation sharply criticized KSL’s decision.
“Same-sex families are a beloved part of American television thanks to shows like Modern Family, Glee and Grey’s Anatomy,” GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said. “While audiences, critics and advertisers have all supported LGBT stories, KSL is demonstrating how deeply out of touch it is with the rest of the country.”
KSL immediately took issue with the criticism on Monday, noting its decision to pull the show is wrongly “being reduced to a single issue.”
“KSL did not cancel this show because it features gay characters,” the station said in a statement. “We have viewed the pilot and this program contains sexually explicit content, demeaning dialogue and inciting stereotypes.”
Over the years, KSL has deemed several other shows inappropriate for its viewers, including “Saturday Night Live,” which instead airs on Salt Lake City’s KUCW.
Last year, the station declined to air the short-lived 1960s period drama “The Playboy Club,” noting it, too, was inappropriate material for its audience.
In 2002, KSL decided not to broadcast an episode of the “Tonight” show because it was set to feature the creators of a stage act called “Puppetry of the Penis.”
A year later, KSL joined WNDU-TV, the NBC affiliate owned by the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., in declining to air the short-lived new sitcom, “Coupling.” The show was a remake of a BBC sitcom focusing on the sex lives of a group of friends.
The university-owned station noted at the time that the show’s sexual jokes “push the envelope well beyond the boundaries of our community’s standards.”
KSL officials said their decision came after a barrage of Utah viewer complaints over network promotions for the show.
Bonneville International, KSL’s parent company, also owns radio stations in Los Angeles, Seattle and Phoenix.
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