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Hotels Pressured To Halt Porn

Activist Phil Burress, of Citizens for Community Values, poses in his Cincinnnati office Monday, Aug. 21, 2006 with a copy of full-page anti-porn ad that CCV and other groups recently placed in USA Today.
AP Photo/Tom Uhlman
Pornographic movies now seem nearly as pervasive in America's hotel rooms as tiny shampoo bottles, and the lodging industry shows little concern as conservative activists rev up a protest campaign aimed at triggering a federal crackdown.

A coalition of 13 conservative groups — including the Family Research Council and Concerned Women for America — took out full-page ads in some editions of USA Today earlier this month urging the Justice Department and FBI to investigate whether some of the pay-per-view movies widely available in hotels violate federal and state obscenity laws.

The coalition also is trying to draw attention to CleanHotels.com, a directory of hotels and motels nationwide that pledge to exclude adult offerings from their in-room entertainment service.

Though porn is now cheaply and readily accessible on the Internet, and through many other outlets, the activists chose to target the hotel industry in part because of the well-known brands of corporations that cater to family vacationers as well as business travelers.

"These are places that you take your family — these are respectable institutions," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "Anything that brings porn into the mainstream is a concern. It just desensitizes people."

Precise statistics on in-room adult entertainment are hard to come by. By some estimates, adult movies are available in roughly 40 percent of the nation's hotels, representing more than 1.5 million rooms. Industry analysts suggest that these adult offerings generate 60 to 80 percent of total in-room entertainment revenue — several hundred million dollars a year.

The recent newspaper ad mentioned no hotel companies by name because of legal concerns, but it did target the two major suppliers of in-room adult movies — South Dakota-based LodgeNet and Denver-based OnCommand, a subsidiary of Liberty Media Corp. The ad accused both companies of distributing hardcore pornography to their hotel clients, and it provided a link to a list of X-rated movie titles.

Spokesmen for OnCommand and Liberty Media declined to comment on the ad, and LodgeNet's spokeswoman did not return calls seeking comment. However, top spokespeople for two of the biggest hotel chains, Hilton and Marriott, defended the policies that make adult movies widely available at their affiliated hotels.