Anti-porn group targets company offering adult movies to hotel guests
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- A Cincinnati-based conservative group led by a self-described former porn addict wants to purge hard-core pay-per-view movies from the nation's hotel rooms, and it took its fight Thursday to the hometown of LodgeNet Entertainment Corp.
Citizens for Community Values is pressuring LodgeNet -- a publicly traded Sioux Falls company -- to stop offering pornographic titles through its in-room pay-per-view service. The company 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.
Phil Burress, president of Citizens for Community Values, said he believes some of the movies offered by LodgeNet are prosecutable under federal law.
"They're selling hard-core 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.
The company 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.
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 hard-core 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 Federal prosecutor 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.
Burress and his allies have had some success, pressuring about 16 Ohio and Kentucky hotels to remove adult movies.
The group expanded its fight recently, putting up a "LodgeNet Profits From Porn" billboard along Sioux Falls' main north-south artery and listing LodgeNet's adult movies titles on its Web site.
Burress said if federal authorities won't prosecute LodgeNet, he'll work with state prosecutors to go after the company for violating state obscenity laws.
LodgeNet shares rose 51 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $29.70 Thursday.