U.S. net A&E has rescinded its suspension of Phil Robertson (pictured), after the Duck Dynasty patriarch’s comments at the tail-end of 2013 caused a firestorm of controversy.
The network announced on Friday (December 27) that Robertson would re-join the rest of his family and resume filming the series, nine days after initially announcing that the star was being placed on indefinite hiatus.
A&E’s parent company, A+E Networks, said it was making the decision “after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups.” The network also announced that it would be launching “a national public service campaign promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people.”
A+E’s initial suspension of Phil Robertson came after the 67-year-old made controversial comments regarding homosexuality and the pre-civil rights era in an interview with GQ magazine.
The suspension was praised by LGBT civil rights groups, including GLAAD and The Human Rights Campaign, but criticized by conservative commentators, who cited First Amendment concerns.
Following the suspension, the family at the center of the show said they “cannot imagine the show going forward” without the patriarch. Meanwhile, a petition on IStandWithPhil.com, in support of the reality star, landed more than 260,000 signatories.
Robertson’s reinstatement has been met with condemnation by GLAAD, which stated that “if dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps then A&E has chosen profits over African American and gay people – especially its employees and viewers.”
A&E’s full statement, issued to U.S. media outlets, follows below:
“As a global media content company, A+E Networks’ core values are centered around creativity, inclusion and mutual respect. 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.
“That is why we reacted so quickly and strongly to a recent interview with Phil Robertson. While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate.’ We at A+E Networks expressed our disappointment with his statements in the article and reiterate that they are not views we hold.
“But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family… a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.
“So after discussions with the Robertson family, as well as consulting with numerous advocacy groups, A&E has decided to resume filming Duck Dynasty later this spring with the entire Robertson family.
“We will also use this moment to launch a national public service campaign (PSA) promoting unity, tolerance and acceptance among all people, a message that supports our core values as a company and the values found in Duck Dynasty. These PSAs will air across our entire portfolio.”