April 24, 2008

From the Desk of Phil Burress
President of Citizens for Community Values
Citizens’ E-Courier · April 24, 2008

Marriott Officials Agree to Talk to Pro-Family Leaders

Topic:  Porn-free rooms

The article reprinted below, from CNSNews.com, highlights an historic meeting scheduled for May 14 between officials of Marriott International and a small group of pro-family leaders. The meeting’s single topic is Marriott’s policy of making in-room pornographic movies available to their customers.

Marriott’s agreement to discuss their policy came in response to an April 3 letter signed by CCV and 46 other pro-family organizations.  For a list of all the groups signing that letter, click here.

Many major hotel chains make pornographic movies available to their customers through their in-room pay-per-view service.  We have targeted Marriott because of their stated policy of championing family values. This is a matter dear to my heart, and high on CCV’s list of priority issues.

So many individuals have been devastated by a vicious addiction and their families dismantled because a businessman traveling alone gave into the temptation to view a pornographic movie in his hotel room.  Too many children have been negatively affected for years because of one accidental exposure to a graphic hardcore movie in a hotel room.  The ways such movies negatively impact our families are many and severe.

That’s why we’ve poured so much into development of our Web site, CleanHotels.com, through which families can find and book a facility that does not offer such movies.

That’s why we campaigned to expose LodgeNet, the major supplier of pornographic movies to the nation’s hotels.  To understand the nature of these movies and LodgeNet’s role, visit our Web site, TruthAboutLodgenet.com.

CCV’s leadership role in this campaign is the reason that I have been asked to be present in this May 14 meeting with Marriott officials.  Please be in prayer that Marriott officials will place the physical, emotional and spiritual health of the families they serve above profit and follow the example of Omni, Drury and other national chains who have made porn-free rooms their corporate policy.

Pro-Family Groups Lobby Marriott for Porn-Free Rooms
By Penny Starr and Lois Owen · CNSNews.com Staff Writers
April 21, 2008

(CNSNews.com) – Officials with Marriott International have agreed to meet with pro-family leaders to discuss the hotel giant’s policy of selling in-room pornographic movies to consumers at some of its properties.

“We certainly think Mr. Marriott has a heart for children and families,” Randy Sharp, director of special projects for the American Family Association (AFA), told Cybercast News Service.

The AFA is one of 47 pro-family groups to sign an April 3 letter, addressed to Marriott Chairman and CEO J.W. Marriott Jr., asking that the corporation cease offering adult entertainment in its rooms. Other groups signing the letter include Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, and Citizens for Community Values.

The letter stressed that pulling the plug on pornography would be in keeping with Marriott’s public statement of “promoting the well-being of children and families.”

Roger Conner, vice president of communications with Marriott International, told Cybercast News Service that officials from the corporation will meet with representatives from some of the groups that signed the letter on May 14 in Washington, D.C.

But he said it is a complex matter to make broad policy changes for a publicly traded company with properties that have individual owners.

“Marriott is a publicly traded company, so Mr. Marriott would not make a unilateral decision,” Conner said.

Conner said he doesn’t know when or who made the original decision – “it goes way back in time” – to contract with Lodgenet Interactive Corp., the main purveyor of in-room entertainment for hotels in the United States and around the world, including Marriott and its many brands: Hilton Hotels Corporation, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and Carlson Hospitality.

Like Marriott, many hotel chains leave in-room entertainment programming decisions up to individual properties, making it difficult to determine how many hotel rooms have pornography for sale in rooms.

Conner said individual properties, not Marriott International, receive compensation from Lodgenet or other providers from movies, including adult movies, sold to consumers.

Pro-family groups have been lobbying major American hotel chains for years to end the practice of selling pornography to consumers, but this is the first time a major hospitality corporation has agreed to meet with these groups.

Conner told Cybercast News Service that the meeting will be “a good discussion,” but he added that making policy changes is a long process.

“The first part of that process will start with discussions with our owners,” Conner said.
Some large chains, however, have taken the initiative to make all of their properties porn- free, including Omni Hotel & Resorts. The corporation implemented the new policy in 1999 after negotiating with Lodgenet for a porn-free in-room entertainment package.

“So many people have been supportive of this decision,” Caryn Kboudi, vice president of corporate communications, told Cybercast News Service. “We have received thousands and thousands – we don’t even count them anymore – of letters from families, from communities, from all corners to applaud the effort that it took to make this change.

“We have never had anybody be disgruntled about it,” she said.

Conner said Marriott International occasionally receives complaints from shareholders and guests about in-room pornography.

In 2002, Citizens for Community Values – a conservative group dedicated to promoting Judeo-Christian moral values – launched a Web site it hoped would help families support hotels that are porn-free.

At least one group, however, supports the distribution of adult movies in hotels. Paul Cambria, general counsel for the Adult Freedom Foundation, said adults should have access to whatever entertainment they find enjoyable.

“I don’t refer to it as pornography,” Cambria told Cybercast News Service. “I refer to it as adult entertainment. Adult entertainment is completely protected by the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court has said so time and time again.”

The upcoming meeting between Marriott and pro-family leaders could result in less hotel options for those who agree with Cambria and a larger database for CleanHotels.com.

“We are hoping (Marriott) takes a responsible corporate position on this and ceases offering that kind of material in their chains,” Daniel Weiss, senior analyst for media and sexuality at Focus on the Family, told Cybercast News Service.