A&E puts Phil Robertson back on 'Duck Dynasty' after anti-gay flap
By Eric Kelsey
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Cable network A&E said on Friday that Phil Robertson will be allowed to re-join his family in the hit reality show "Duck Dynasty," less than two weeks after the patriarch was suspended over anti-gay comments.
Robertson's remarks to GQ magazine and his subsequent suspension by A&E sparked a nationwide debate over tolerance and religion, with conservative politicians and fans saying that Robertson's beliefs were consistent with the Bible.
"As a global media content company, A&E Networks' core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect," A&E said in a statement released late Friday.
"We believe it is a privilege for our brands to be invited into people's homes and we operate with a strong sense of integrity and deep commitment to these principles," added the network, a joint venture of Walt Disney Co. and privately held Hearst Corp.
"Duck Dynasty" ranks among the most-watched cable television programs and averages about 8 million viewers per episode. Its fifth season is slated to begin on January 15. The show's fourth season debuted in August to 11.8 million viewers, a record for a cable nonfiction series, according to the network.
By lifting Robertson's suspension after nine days, A&E assures that the 67-year-old will not miss production of the series' sixth season and staves off any mutiny by the remainder of the family.
Robertson, the leader of the backwater Louisiana clan on the reality show about hunting, fishing and domestic squabbles, was put on indefinite "hiatus" on December 18 by A&E for his remarks to GQ characterizing homosexuality as sinful behavior.
"Start with homosexual behavior and just morph from there," Robertson said when asked what is sinful. "Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men." Continued...