SALT LAKE CITY - A Mormon church-owned NBC television station in Utah plans to begin showing first-run "Saturday Night Live" episodes this fall after years of refusing to air the sketch comedy show.
The decision is part of the station's plan to make the lineup stronger and improve its relationship with NBC, said Tami Ostmark, KSL-TV's vice president of marketing, research and promotion.
KSL is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has not aired certain shows over the years due to content it deems inappropriate. But Ostmark says content was never the issue with "SNL." She says the station didn't want to bump a popular sports show that aired at the same time.
New episodes of "SNL" will air at 10:30 p.m. local time Saturdays on KSL starting Sept. 28, Ostmark said. The station has been airing reruns for the past year at an earlier time slot Saturday evenings.
NBC said in a statement that it's pleased KSL will air the 39th season of "SNL," adding that it values its partnership with the Utah affiliate.
First-run episodes of "SNL" have previously aired on Utah's CW network affiliate, KUCW. KUCW executive Richard Jones said he was taking the loss in stride.
"Obviously, we would have liked to have kept it," he said, but added, "Maintaining a good relationship with NBC is more important than complaining about this."
The CW affiliate has been airing NBC's "Hannibal" since May after KSL dropped it due to graphic and gory content. The station has also been showing "The New Normal," a sitcom about a gay couple who invite a surrogate mother into their home, since the fall of 2012.
KSL executives said the program was inappropriate to air during family viewing time, saying the show's dialogue was excessively crude and that scenes were too explicit.
KSL announced the "SNL" decision Wednesday on its Facebook page. The reaction on Facebook was mixed. Some applauded the station for finally airing "SNL" while others decried the station's decision to air a show with foul humor. Some predicted the show would be pulled as soon as "SNL" airs a crude skit that offends the audience.
In a statement sent by email, KSL said it's excited about its fall lineup that will now include "Saturday Night Live" and the 2014 Winter Olympics.
"Obviously, we would have liked to have kept it. Maintaining a good relationship with NBC is more important than complaining about this."
Richard Jones, executive at CW affiliate KUCW