UPN Affiliate to Air Amish

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A Pennsylvania UPN affiliate station will air reality series Amish in the City after all, according to station officials.

WLYH in Lancaster, Pa. initially refused to broadcast the show until it could review its premiere episode, which aired Wednesday night. The station was concerned the show was disrespectful of its local Amish community.

After viewing a tape of the premiere with a group of community leaders, station officials decided to air future episodes during its Wednesday night first-run and Friday encore. The premiere will air tomorrow night.

"It was educational for all of us," WLYH General Manager Matt Uhl said of the screening group, which included advertisers, public relations officials and local educators familiar with the Amish religion. "Even though they felt that it made fun of the Amish a little bit, in the end they all agreed that you had to put the program on the air. If you didn't, you'd be exercising censorship, which is wrong."

Amish in the City portrays five Amish youth in the midst of rumspringa, a coming-of-age period when teens leave their community and enjoy new freedoms. They later decide whether to rejoin the Amish community. On the program, the youth live with six other young people in Los Angeles.

UPN declined to provide WLYH with an advance copy of the episode. Uhl said that he was glad the station opted to take the time to review the episode.

"This was the right move to make," Uhl said. "I was thrilled with the way that UPN handled this. We were in constant contact all along. If they knew that any market was going to have any sensitivity to this, it would be Lancaster and the surrounding communities."

Paul Hewitt, UPN's vice president for communications, said the network respected the station's need to do what was best for its community.
"Now that they've seen the show," Hewitt said, "We are pleased that they agree that we made a quality show that is respectful and entertaining, and we think their viewers will like what they see."

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