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A&E can't win on "Duck Dynasty" flap

In entertainment, they say there's no such thing as bad publicity. But after the last 10 days, the A&E television network may not be so sure.

The controversy started when the star of the hit show "Duck Dynasty" got a tidal wave of criticism for making racially insensitive and anti-gay statements.

A&E quickly suspended the show's star Phil Robertson, which sparked outrage among his fans.

“Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson reinstated 00:49
Then on Friday, on the company announced it was reversing field and reinstating him.

Now it feels like no one's happy.

A&E says it made the decision "after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups." As part of the announcement, A&E also said it was going to start a public service campaign to promote tolerance.

"The fact that it was during the Christmas season, things are a little slower and people are paying attention to questions of faith and values, and it all created a perfect storm and A&E had to find a way out," said TV Guide editor Bruce Fretts.

Robertson told a writer for GQ magazine how he defines sin: "Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there." He went on to equate homosexuality with bestiality and questioning the appeal of same-sex relationships in crude terms. "But hey, sin: It's not logical," he said.

Talking about African-Americans before the civil rights movement, Robertson said, "I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person, not once. … They were happy; no one was singing the blues."

The network was in a tight spot. "Duck Dynasty" is not just its most-watched show, but cable TV's top reality show, with nearly 12 million viewers. The show sold $80 million in advertising through the first nine months of the year, and "Duck Dynasty" merchandise accounts for another $400 million.

"It's not a coincidence they released this on a Friday of a holiday weekend.  They are trying to minimize the damage to the brand. And just keep on rolling and keep on printing money with 'Duck Dynasty,'" Fretts said.

Threats of a boycott of the network came from both sides – those angry A&E would suspect Robertson and those angry that it would not.

And then there was the clear message from the Robertson family, who said: "We cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm."

But as pressured mounted – 250,000 people signed a petition calling for a boycott of A&E if Robertson weren’t reinstated – the network reversed field.

"A&E has decided to resume filming 'Duck Dynasty' later this spring with the entire Robertson family," the network said.

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