‘Gossip’ Heats Up But CW Affils Sit Tight

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Some still-unidentified comely young people will engage in a threesome on Monday night’s episode of Gossip Girl and a torrent of criticism from the Parents Television Council hasn’t compelled any of the CW’s affiliates to preempt the show as of presstime Monday afternoon.

“We have no affiliate pull-outs whatsoever,” said the network’s Senior VP of Communications Paul McGuire. He did say that the network’s affiliate department had some discussions with affils but that that was typical from time to time. McGuire added that he had not received any emails from viewers expressing concerns over the episode.

The PTC sent off a letter last week asking affiliates not to air the episode, calling the content “reckless and irresponsible.”

It isn’t the first time that Gossip Girl or the CW have been caught in the watchdog group’s target. The PTC criticized Gossip for its racy “OMFG” ad campaign last year (OMFG is the texting-generation’s standard for “oh my god” with the colorful expletive thrown in for good measure). Other CW shows like 90210 and America’s Next Top Model have also drawn the ire of the PTC.

“They seem to have their favorites that they pick on,” said CW affiliate WIWB Green Bay’s (Wisc.) GM Steve Shanks.  “I think it’s going to be one of these things where there’s more hype to it than anything,”  He said the few complaint emails his station had received were from members of the PTC. Shanks had heard the show would not only depict a threesome, but would then show the repercussions of the romp on the offending characters.

While McGuire declined to comment on whether the PTC flare-up could be a ratings boon for the show (”Ask me tomorrow,” he said), Gossip Girl has struggled so far this season. Though it is still the CW’s top-rated show in its coveted demo of women 18-34, it has slipped 10% this season, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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