Salt Lake City’s Mormon-Owned NBC Affiliate KSL-TV Refuses to Air ‘The New Normal’

NBC Photo/The New Normal

The Mormon-owned Salt Lake City affiliate of NBC, KSL-TV, has decided not to air the soon-to-be-released television show, The New Normal, which features a gay male couple who are having a baby through a surrogate.

In a blatant nod to so-called “family values,” Jeff Simpson, CEO of KSL-TV’s parent company, Bonneville International, told local papers, “For our brand, this program simply feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time.”

This is not the first time the station has chosen to preempt primetime shows it felt were controversial. According to deadline.com, Last fall, it dropped period drama The Playboy Club for “objectionable material.” [The series was picked up by MyNetworkTV’s station in the Salt Lake City market.] KSL’s previous NBC casualties include NBC’s racy comedy Coupling and the religious-themed animated comedy, God, the Devil and Bob. Both, as well as The Playboy Club were quickly cancelled.

“Same-sex families are a beloved part of American television thanks to shows like Modern Family, Glee and Grey’s Anatomy,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “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.”

Graddick added, “We invite Jeff Simpson to sit down with GLAAD and local LGBT families. We know that if he would, he would see that not only are our families normal, but by citing ‘crude and rude’ content and refusing to affirm LGBT families, KSL and Mr. Simpson are sending a dangerous message to Utah. They should make that right.”

That KSL-TV made this decision was not a surprise to Joshua Howard Behn, President of the national Gay and Lesbian Mormon Group, Affirmation. Though not an official comment from the group, Behn spoke for himself as a gay activist within Utah telling The Seattle Lesbian, “This is Utah, and while it’s not as wildly conservative here as many outside the ‘Zion Curtain’ think [Salt Lake is fairly progressive with a thriving LGBT nightlife scene, the highest concentration of Gay/Lesbian couples in the US according to the last census report, and several city ordinances which ban discrimination in housing] there are cases every now and then where battle lines get drawn.”

While it isn’t yet clear if any other network affiliates in the Salt Lake City market will pick up The New Normal or if any protests have been planned, Behn feels that an “influx of non-Mormons/Not-From-Utah-Mormons/and immigrants are helping to bring a fresh perspective” to the “provincial” state.  Behn cites the fact that there were more than 300 straight allies who marched with the Affirmation contingent in this year’s Salt Lake City Pride parade as an indication that the LDS Church is beginning to lose ground when it comes to the dialogue about LGBTI people.

Affirmation, which was formed 30 years ago and has grown at an exponential rate, will be hosting its annual conference in Seattle this year at the Renaissance Hotel from October 19-21. Choosing to focus on the positive rather than the rarer, but often more news-making negative, Behn says this year’s conference entitled “Celebrate the Journey” will “showcase our allies within the LGBTI Mormon movement, and the great strides that have been taken since our formation over 30 years ago. I welcome any who might be interested in the progress that has taken place in the LGBTI Mormon movement to attend the conference.” Registration is open now on the group’s website: www.affirmation.org.

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