We all knew A&E wasn’t going to allow ‘Duck Dynasty’ to leave the network. Two weeks ago the network indefinitely suspended Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the hit show from the series following his controversial comments about gay people. Shortly after A&E announced Phil was off the show, the rest of the family said they wouldn’t continue on without him. Fast forward to today, and A&E is backtracking, saying Phil WILL be back as part of the series in the upcoming fifth season.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, A&E said:
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.
It was purely a financial move on A&E’s part – if you ask me. They couldn’t let their money-makers go. And they ended up not making much sense about the whole thing. They may have suspended Phil, but they certainly let the re-runs continue to air!
For its part, A&E did little else in the wake of Robertson’s comments than the initial suspension. Encores of the series have continued to air, including a marathon on Christmas Day, and canceling or delaying the Jan. 15 season five premiere never seemed to be on the table.
Duck Dynasty is a huge asset for A&E. In addition to being the top-rated reality program on cable, second across all of cable to only The Walking Dead with an average 13.4 million viewers and 7.6 million adults 18-49 in live-plus-7 ratings, Duck Dynasty has multiple brand tie-ins. Duck Dynasty gear is available across in retailers across the U.S., including Walmart, Sears and Cracker Barrel restaurants.
The entire Robertson family has been on hiatus for duck hunting season, a contractual stipulation, which continues through Jan. 26 in their native Louisiana.
Are you surprised A&E caved so quick?
Posted Friday, December 27th, 2013 at 2:14pm
Filed under TV News