'Penthouse' seeks injunction in New York

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Penthouse publisher General Media has requested a hearing on December 31 in New York's Federal District Court seeking a preliminary injunction to halt enforcement of the Military Honor and Decency Act which is slated to take effect at the start of 1997. The act bans the sale or rental of sexually explicit materials in exchanges at military bases and abroad U.S. Navy ships worldwide. General Media, in a suit that names Defense Secretary William Perry as the defendant, claims the regulation is an unconstitutional breach of the First Amendment.

"The act takes the position that soldiers and sailors, like children, must be protected from the danger of non-obscene materials that are clearly protected by the First Amendment," the suit states. It is the latest in a series of obstacles to the distribution and sale of the so-called men's sophisticate titles, that include Playboy and Penthouse.

By year end, Diamond Shamrock, parent company of Stop 'n Shop and Corner Store chain of convenience stores, said it will stop selling the men's sophisticate titles at 1,500 company-owned stores scattered across Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Louisiana. The Diamond Shamrock edict will not affect the 1,100 franchisee stores in eight states that are independently owned.Under fire from the American Family Association, a religious lobbying group, Diamond Shamrock said it plans to install Family Reading Centers in its company-owned stores with an expanded selection of magazines and books for children, teens and families.

7-Eleven parent company Southland Corp. has banned the sale of men's sophisticate titles in its company-owned stores since 1986, but recently began to make it harder for the men's sophisticates to reach franchise stores. Southland said that nine central distribution centers that distribute everything from perishable dairy and food products to timely magazines for the company,will ban men's sophisticate titles.

The 7-Eleven independent franchisees in the regions where magazines go through the distribution centers will now have to make separate delivery arrangements on their own with magazine wholesalers if the stores are to continue selling the men's sophisticate magazines.

Copyright December 1996, Crain Communications Inc.

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