"We make every effort to operate within the community standards," said KSL station manager Greg James. "This is clearly something that if the event occurs in that show it would - in my opinion - not be keeping within the [holiday] season and within community standards. And we would be compelled not to air the program."
Madonna's performance of the song "Live to Tell" has created a stir among Roman Catholics and Russian Orthodox, prompting protests, death threats and talk of criminal charges against her in Germany. She already has toured the U.S. and is now in Japan.
Bountiful resident Bruce Brand learned from the conservative, religion-based media watchdog group American Family Association that the performance could end up on TV.
So he fired off e-mails to KSL and its parent network NBC asking they not air the special.
"If you took the most sacred events of Judaism, Passover for instance . . . that would be very offensive to the Jewish people," said Brand, who is Mormon. "If you took the events of Mohammed in Islamic history and you made fun of him . . . it would be very offensive to the Muslim world."
"These are things that are sacred," he added. "To try and depict them in any other way than a sacred way is inappropriate."
An NBC spokeswoman who declined to be identified said Wednesday that no decision has been made on which part of Madonna's concert will make it to air.
"We're awaiting delivery [of the show]," she said. "Once we view it in its entirety, we'll make a decision."
Earlier this year, NBC President Kevin Reilly told television critics at their annual press tour in Pasadena that the network and the singer's camp have "discussed exactly what content will be in and what is out. And we've come to, I think, a healthy place that represents her show but is appropriate for television," he said.
He said the special, taped last month during a performance in London, will include whole numbers and not "piecemeal edits."
This wouldn't be the first time Utah television stations have pre-empted or re-scheduled programs due to racy content.
KSL has refused to air "Saturday Night Live" for its graphic content (instead, it airs on KUCW Channel 30), and an episode of "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno because two of the guests were performers in the stage show "Puppetry of the Penis."
The station also refused to air the NBC sitcom "Coupling" because of its sexual content and an animated series about a man who talks to God called "God, the Devil and Bob."
The most recent pre-emption was last December when CBS affiliate KUTV Channel 2, which is owned by the network, delayed the airing of "The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show" to midnight because of its titillating nature.