Marriott Agrees to Meet With Anti-Porn Advocates
Will hold discussions in Washington May 14
Posted Apr 21st, 2008 02:30 PM by Peter Warren
— Marriott International will meet in Washington May 14 with leaders of anti-porn groups that have petitioned the hotel chain to remove adult movies from its rooms, according to Cybercast News Service.
Coming in response to an April 3 letter
signed by 47 "pro-family" groups, the meeting may or may not serve to further the groups' agenda, as making such a broad change to the corporation's policy would be a very complex proposition, Marriott officials say.
"Marriott is a publicly traded company, so Mr. Marriott would not make a unilateral decision," said VP of communications Roger Conner, referring to CEO J.W. Marriott Jr., to whom the letter was addressed.
Conner said he does not know who made the original decision, or when — "it goes way back in time," he noted — to contract with Lodgenet Interactive Corp., the company that provides in-room entertainment for Marriott and sister brands Hilton Hotels Corporation, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and Carlson Hospitality.
This is the first time a major hotel chain has agreed to meet with anti-adult lobbying groups, but even so, Conner stressed that it's the individual properties and not Marriott International that decide whether or not to offer adult programming, and that receive compensation for it from Lodgenet and other providers.
Omni Hotel & Resorts negotiated with Lodgenet in 1999 to implement a porn-free in-room entertainment package. "So many people have been supportive of this decision," said VP of corporate communications Caryn Kboudi. "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."
Adult industry attorney Paul Cambria, however, pointed out to Cybercast that, "Adult entertainment is completely protected by the First Amendment, and the Supreme Court has said so time and time again."
Nevertheless, Daniel Weiss, senior analyst for media and sexuality at lobbying group Focus on the Family, said, "We are hoping [Marriott] takes a responsible corporate position on this and ceases offering that kind of material in their chains."