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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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Despite rumors, KSL has not banned video of gay kissing

KSL is not against kissing, although Channel 5 reporters were apparently told to avoid showing it when reporting on the court decision overturning Utah's ban on gay marriage.

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But that, according the top KSL news executive, is not station policy.

"While we don't seek to include it in the news, KSL has no official policy on kissing - either heterosexual or homosexual," said Tanya Vea, KSL's executive vice president of news and cross-platform development.

It's sort of a weird sidebar to the story that has dominated the news in Utah since the judge issued his ruling on Friday. But rumors have run rampant that KSL has banned gay kissing on its newscasts, despite the fact that Channel 5 has aired video of just that since Friday.

"I can guarantee you we have aired people kissing on our air," Vea said. "And, yes, we do have complaints about it.... We wouldn't have those complaints had we not aired the video."

She said it's not uncommon for reporters to be cautioned about what video to use - that "as a matter of daily business, there are frequently cautions on video of all sorts."

There are copies of an email floating around that includes just such a caution. It instructs KSL staffers to "avoid using kissing videos in your stories about Amendment 3" — both gay and straight kissing — because that is "the number one complaint we've been receiving."

Vea, who's on vacation, said she had not seen that email, but acknowledged that it could be genuine.

"There may have been a caution that went out on this, but there is no policy - that's definitive," Vea said. "And if there's a policy, that would have come from me or higher. There is no policy on this."

She also lamented that KSL itself had become part of the story - at least in the minds of some.

"It seems in a story of this magnitude, with emotions so high on both sides, this is a silly diversion at best," Vea said. "Or, at worst, an attempt to further a personal agenda and incite controversy that doesn't exist."


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