No More Playboy, Penthouse Sold at Army Bases (WSJ)

Wall Street Journal:
By Ben Kesling

Soldiers desperate for “adult sophisticate” magazines won’t be able to find them on Army or Air Force bases anymore.

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service, or AAFES, has nixed the sale of magazines for a mature readership including Playboy, Penthouse and American Curves. As of Wednesday the exchanges, which are a combination of department store and convenience store found on military bases, will no longer sell any of the 48 magazines that make up the so-called adult sophisticate category.

The adult magazines are part of a list of 891 magazines that the exchanges on Army and Air Force installations will no longer offer. Others being dropped include Arabian Horse World, Chess Life and Good Old Boat.

“This was purely a business decision on our part,” said Chris Ward, a spokesman for AAFES. He added that AAFES hadn’t necessarily carried all 891 titles at all of its 1,155 locations world-wide (including 8 in Iraq and 34 in Afghanistan), but that they were the ones available to be stocked according to the manager’s discretion and input from regional and national distribution experts.

Newsstand sales of consumer magazines dropped 8.2% in the second half of 2012, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, and sales of magazines at Army and Air Force exchanges fell 18% from 2011 to 2012 according to AAFES’s latest numbers.

And exchanges saw adult sophisticate magazine sales plummet 86% since 1998. These magazines represented only 0.014% of all sales at exchange facilities in 2012, according to AAFES.

Titles like Playboy require added expenses including specialized handling costs and continuous monitoring to ensure they remain in particular positions on magazine racks, Mr. Ward said.

The policy change follows closely after a July 22 letter from F. E. Vollrath, Assistant Defense Secretary for Readiness and Force Management, to the advocacy group Morality in Media Inc., in which Mr. Vollrath said adult sophisticate magazines, if properly displayed on top shelves behind privacy panels and out of the reach of children, aren’t considered to be sexually explicit material and therefore can be sold on Department of Defense property.

The change in policy only affects the Army and Air Force exchanges. A spokesman for the Marine Corps’ Exchange system said the Marine and Navy’s on-base magazine selection will remain unchanged.

Nevertheless, “We’re claiming this as a big victory,” said Dawn Hawkins, executive director of Morality in Media, which opposes pornography. As far as the Navy and Marine Corps stocking of adult sophisticate magazines, “We’re going to continue to pressure them to discontinue those titles,” Ms. Hawkins said.

A spokeswoman for Playboy said the magazine has no comment.

While Lapidary Journal, Quilt Mania and Animals and You have also been discontinued, “men’s general magazines” like Maxim and FHM, which often feature buxom women and ribald jokes, will still be available for sale.

People Magazine, the No. 1 selling magazine on bases, according to AAFES, will be among the approximately 2,000 titles that will remain available. Knitting Today will not.

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