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Nick Sticks With Spears, `Zoey 101’

Nickelodeon has no plans to pull the February debut of Zoey 101’s fourth season despite the controversial real-life pregnancy of Jamie Lynn Spears, the show’s 16-year-old star, according to network executives.

On the eve of the show’s third-season finale (Jan. 4), Nickelodeon executive vice president of corporate communications Dan Martinsen said Thursday that the network has not changed its plans to premiere next month the fourth and final season of Zoey 101, which the kids-targeted service has already taped.

The airing of the show’s last season, in which Spears plays a level-headed teen attending boarding school, came into question after Spears revealed on Dec. 19 in tabloid OK! Magazine that she was expecting a child.

Since the revelation, several publications, including The Tampa Tribune have called for Nickelodeon to shelve the show  due to the negative influence Spears’ pregnancy could have on the show’s impressionable tween-targeted audience.

Martinsen would not comment on whether the network has received complaints from concerned parents or kids about the show, which has remained on the air despite the controversy.

Nickelodeon said episodes of the show have continued to average 2 million viewers since news of Spears’s pregnancy.

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.