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Citizens for Community Values attacks content of hotel media company, LodgeNet; Burress at it Again

South Dakota- A billboard on Minnesota Avenue near 36th Street reading “LodgeNet Profits from Porn” is an attempt by a national public policy organization to bring attention to the Sioux Falls-based company’s decision to offer adult movies.

The billboard, put up by Citizens for Community Values, an Ohio-based public policy organization, is just one of several tactics they are using, which will include a news conference Aug. 9 in Sioux Falls.

CCV, which is affiliated with Focus on the Family, wants everyone to know that LodgeNet is a “major pornographer,” said Phil Burress, president of CCV. The organization wants the South Dakota U.S. Attorney to investigate LodgeNet for possible violations of federal law.

Ann Parker, director of corporate communications at LodgeNet, said the company is no different than any other cable company on TV.

“(The CCV) may not like what a particular person watches, but the great genius of our government doesn’t legislate what people watch in the privacy of their home or hotel room, and the CCV is out to change that,” she said.

Sioux Falls-based LodgeNet is the leading provider of media services in the lodging industry. The company offers a variety of movies on demand, including a selection of adult titles, but also provides Internet services as well as movies on demand.

“We want LodgeNet out of the porn business,” Burress said.

“They are the largest provider of hardcore pornography to hotels in America.”

CCV members will be in Sioux Falls to hold a news conference about their campaign against LodgeNet – though Burress wouldn’t say where. The group was invited by the South Dakota Family Policy Council, said Chris Hupke, president of SDFPC. The CCV also launched radio ads attacking the pornography industry.

The U.S. Supreme Court settled the issue of obscenity almost 40 years ago with the Roth-Miller standard, said David Day, professor of law at the University of South Dakota. To put it plainly, if there is any kind of plotline, it’s not obscenity.

“The standard is one that is very supportive of free speech values and defines obscenity very narrowly,” he said.

Parker said LodgeNet offers a wide range of options, but each hotel they serve determines the content, not LodgeNet.

The company follows the national cable TV and satellite TV standards and their systems have parental controls both in the room and at the front desk, she said.

LodgeNet has every right to provide adult services, said Benjamin Fuqua, 22, as long as they control underage use.

“It’s not that big of an issue,” he said. “Pornography is not a reason people go to hotels in the first place.”

Hupke said if LodgeNet is violating federal law, it should be investigated. They hope to see LodgeNet detach from the pornography industry but still stay a “strong, viable entertainment business.”

The harm associated with the type of pornography LodgeNet shows is “endless,” Burress said. He thinks pornography degrades women and that “men who use pornography think women are mere sex objects to be used and abused and discarded.”

Parker said LodgeNet believes in giving customers a choice, whether that be “Disney, ESPN or Howard Stern.”

“Frankly, we’re offended that this outside group is trying to come in and tell South Dakotan citizens what they can and cannot watch,” she said.

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