By Scott Buttram
A+E Networks has reversed A&E regarding the suspension of Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty,” the highest-rated series in cable television history. The parent company, which owns History Channel, Lifetime, Bio and Military History, along with A&E and several other networks, released the statement Friday.
The network placed Robinson on “indefinite hiatus” following an interview with GQ magazine in which Robertson stated his Biblically-based views on homosexuality. At the time, A&E stated that the comments did not represent the views of the network, which has “core values” of inclusion.
Following the suspension, the Robertson family issued its own statement, saying they couldn’t see how the show could go on without the family patriarch.
The network has faced harsh criticism from many viewers who threatened boycotts, but drew support of gay activist groups. The reversal means taping will begin in the spring as scheduled with the entire family.
Cracker Barrel was the only known retailer to take action against Robertson when it ordered items bearing his likeness be removed from shelves. The restaurant also reversed its actions in the face of fierce opposition and threats of boycott from viewers.
The restaurant issued an apology to fans and returned the items to the shelves 72 hours after they were removed.
As a global media content company, A+E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people’s home and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principals.
That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the “coarse language” he used and the mis-interpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would “never incite or encourage hate.” We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article, and reiterate that they are not views we hold.
But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family… a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.
So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.
We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company, and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.