|By Mark Barna, The Gazette, Colorado
Springs, Colo.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Aug. 18, 2008 - Background
Earlier this year, the Arlington Group, a coalition of Christian organizations that includes Focus on the Family, met with Marriott International officials to try to persuade the hotel chain to stop offering pay-per-view adult movies in its rooms. The group also proposed an "opt in" procedure, in which guests would have to go to the front desk and present a photo ID showing they were adults before having the movies streamed into their rooms.
Marriott agreed to respond to the group's concerns in writing by July 1.
In a letter to the group dated June 26, Marriott stated it was addressing the issue with its adult-entertainment provider, LodgeNet Interactive Corp., and planned to discuss the topic at its owners meeting in late July.
Donald Wildmon, president of American Family Association, which is part of the coalition, said at the time that the response was insufficient and imposed a deadline of Aug. 15 for concrete action to be taken on the part of Marriott, which oversees 3,000 U.S. hotels.
Marriott responded to the group in a letter dated Aug. 14, promising to make it more difficult for guests to view adult entertainment.
Kathleen Matthews, executive vice president of Global Communications & Public Affairs, which is part of Marriott International, said Friday that the hotel chain will implement two pop-up warnings on the TV screen that state that the following material is adult-oriented and only those who are at least 18 years old can view it. Viewers must then press activators to continue.
"This is much more aggressive than the way it is now," Matthews said.
The new system will be implemented in more than 750 U.S. hotels over the next 30 to 60 days, Matthews said.
As for requiring guests to prove they are adults, Matthews said Marriott has no plans to implement that.
"Our feeling is that you have to respect your guest in the room," Matthews said. "We can't have people coming to rooms checking ID. That would be invasive."
Tom Minnery, senior vice president of government and public policy at Focus on the Family Action, the political arm of Focus on the Family, said Friday he was disappointed.
"It is a step in the right direction," Minnery said. "We would have hoped for more."
The Arlington Group plans to meet next week to discuss its official response to Marriott, Minnery said.
Meanwhile, Marriott remains hopeful of a resolution. "We share a desire with the Arlington Group to keep adult entertainment out of the reach of children," Matthews said.
Mark Barna, The Gazette
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