EXCLUSIVE: PTC Asks NBC Affils Not to Air 'Playboy Club'

The Parents Television Council says it has sent letters to every NBC affiliate asking them not to air The Playboy Club, NBC's fall 10 p.m. drama set against the backdrop of Chicago's famed Playboy Club in the 1960s.

According to a copy of the letter obtained by B&C, the organization's president, Tim Winter, told the stations the show was putting a "veneer of sophistication" on the pornography industry. "I am writing to urge you, on behalf of the Parents Television Council's 1.3 million members, to preempt the program in your community," wrote Winter, who said individual members asking stations about the show had received what he called "canned responses" in support of "a sophisticated series about the transitional times of the early 1960s and the complex lives of a group of working-class women."  An NBC spokesperson had no comment beyond that statement.

Winter also warned stations that if they did air the show, PTC would be watching and would urge members to file complaints with the FCC if anything was indecent -- PTC's complaints helped prompt the CBS Super Bowl half-time show indecency fine.  The FCC has not taken any indecency enforcement actions in a couple of years as the courts try to figure out what enforcement powers it has and whether it has been using them legally.

One NBC affiliate, KSL Salt Lake City, has announced that it would preempt the show, a point Winter made in his pitch to other stations to follow suit. KSL, which is owned by Deseret Media Companies, which, in turn is owned by the Mormon Church, said last month that the Playboy brand did not fit with the station's brand, but that it would look to find another channel in the market to carry the show.

PTC criticized NBC in a press release back in April for airing a pilot "with Playboy in the name" and for reports that producer 20th Century Fox TV had required actors to sign a nudity clause -- for footage that could be added to a DVD release or a pay TV aftermarket airing. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.