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Ohio-Based CCV Putting the Squeeze on LodgeNet in Its Hometown

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – A Cincinnati-based conservative group led by a self-described former porn addict wants to purge hardcore pay-per-view movies from the nation’s hotel rooms, and it took its nationwide fight Thursday to the hometown of LodgeNet Entertainment Corp.

Citizens for Community Values is pressuring LodgeNet – a publicly traded Sioux Falls company that provides television, on-demand movies and Internet access to 1.8 million rooms in 9,300 hotel properties across the United States, Canada and Mexico – to stop offering pornographic titles through its in-room pay-per-view service.

Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, said he believes some of the movies offered by Lodgenet are prosecutable under federal law and the company needs to be held accountable.

“They’re selling hardcore pornography in all 50 states – in fact in most cities, in most towns across America,” Burress said during a news conference. “That makes their business our business.”

LodgeNet said in a statement that mature content is just one category of a wide array of programming that includes television channels, Hollywood movies, family titles and sports.

The company said it follows the same standards as cable and satellite providers, and its systems allow hotel guests to block access to adult titles. It added that individual hotels determine programming and content, and some do not offer adult titles.

But Bob Navarro, a former Los Angeles police detective hired by CCV, said the three movies he documented and recorded during a July hotel stay in Pasadena were hardcore films that “left absolutely nothing to the imagination.”

He said he was shocked that material normally limited to “sleazy adult businesses” was now available in hotel rooms.

Burress said his organization will pass the materials on to Marty Jackley, the U.S. attorney for South Dakota, and ask him to investigate whether LodgeNet is violating federal obscenity laws.

Jackley said he can’t comment on possible or ongoing investigations.

LodgeNet, in its statement, said there’s a reason the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI haven’t prosecuted companies for offering adult content: It’s legal.

Courts have made it clear that the government’s ability to dictate taste in private entertainment choices is extremely limited, the company said, and the constitutional system supports individual choice over government coercion.

“CCV confuses its own taste with what the law allows,” LodgeNet said in a statement.

Precise statistics on in-room adult entertainment are hard to come by.

Burress, quoting Focus on the Family media analyst Daniel Weiss, said more than 50 percent of the money made by LodgeNet comes from pornographic movies.

Ann Parker, LodgeNet’s director of corporate communications, said Thursday that Burress’ figure is wrong but she would not provide a more accurate percentage. Statistics for LodgeNet’s pay-per-view movies are not broken down by category, she said.

Burress and his allies have had some success with their anti-porn campaign regionally, pressuring about 16 Ohio and Kentucky hotels to stop offering adult movies.

But his group, which on its Web site touts its official association with James Dobson’s Focus on the Family, expanded its fight recently, erecting a “LodgeNet Profits From Porn” billboard along Sioux Falls’ main north-south artery and listing LodgeNet’s adult movies titles on its Web site. It also took out a full-page “open letter to the LodgeNet Board of Directors and Executive Management” ad in Wednesday’s Argus Leader, a daily newspaper in Sioux Falls.

Parker said Citizens for Community Values launched its assault without ever contacting LodgeNet.

Burress said if federal authorities won’t prosecute LodgeNet, he’ll work with prosecutors in various states such as Ohio to go after the company for violating state obscenity laws.

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