Fresh from his success at pressuring advertisers to abandon the lesbian drama The L Word, Christian action group The Saltshakers’ chief executive Peter Stokes turned his anger to a queer television crew last week.

The Bent TV crew -“ a gay cameraman, lesbian sound technician and lesbian reporter -“ was verbally abused and physically threatened during a prearranged interview about the Saltshakers’ activities.

One of the Bent TV crew members told Sydney Star Observer Stokes had agreed to do the interview and knew the name of the television show. But when the reporter told him she was a lesbian, he became angry and allegedly threatened to destroy a camera.

Stokes’s violent reaction came at the end of a busy week, in which the Saltshakers claimed responsibility for five major advertisers dropping their ads from Channel Seven’s The L Word.

The 600-member organisation conducted a letter-writing campaign to advertisers who appeared during the first few episodes of the series.

Just Jeans, DaimlerChrysler, Roche, Allianz and Centrum sent emails and letters to the Saltshakers, giving commitments they would no longer advertise during the lesbian drama.

Some have since explained their actions, including a notice on the Just Jeans internet site claiming they never booked the ads in the first place.

Recently formed national gay and lesbian lobby group the Equal Rights Network called on the companies to reverse their decisions.

Spokesperson Sally Goldner said the companies’ decisions not to support the program could lead to anti-lesbian prejudice and alienate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender customers.

If companies think their profits will be enhanced by appeasing a few far right lobbyists at the expense of LGBT customers, they are gravely mistaken.

Sydney Star Observer has received letters from readers confirming they have withdrawn support for the companies.

Media industry insider Mike Wilson from buying group Mediaedge:CIA told BNews he was surprised the advertisers had not been warned of the material presented in the program.

I’m a bit mystified by what has happened with The L Word because it was well publicised by the network, he said.

The fact is the agencies responsible for each of those clients should have been informed enough to warn them about the content.

A Channel Seven spokesperson told B & T this week The L Word had a full advertising schedule and was rating well.

The spokesperson said he was not aware of any companies who had cancelled their ads because of the program’s content, which included lesbian and straight sex scenes and full nudity.

The Bent TV interview with Peter Stokes will be broadcast in the next couple of weeks on Melbourne’s Channel 31.

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