CINCINNATI -- While commending Kroger for placing Cosmopolitan magazine behind blinder racks at checkout counters chainwide, Morality in Media here questioned the chain's display policy concerning other "raunchy cover headlines currently on display at Kroger checkouts."
Last week, Kroger ordered its magazine distributor to have blinder racks up at checkout counters at its approximately 2,200 stores. The blinders will cover the front headlines of Cosmo, leaving the masthead still visible to customers.
Kroger's action follows a request by Morality in Media last summer to some 350 supermarket chains to either remove such periodicals or block the front covers of Cosmo and other magazine titles merchandised at checkout fixtures "that carry headlines with lurid sexual content or raunchy headlines."
Kroger officials have told Morality in Media that the chain believed its action addressed the organization's concerns. But Robert Peters, the organization's president pointed out in its most recent letter sent to Kroger late last month that "we do not understand why [the] display policy is apparently limited to Cosmo. We find it hard to believe that Cosmo is the only magazine with raunchy cover headlines currently on display at Kroger checkouts."
Kroger's decision to block only Cosmo was based "on customer complaints only about that title," Gary Rhodes, Kroger's director of public relations told SN.
"Most of the complaints have been focused on Cosmo, and we consider [blinder racks] on a case-by-case basis," he added.
Peters claimed in his latest letter to Kroger and the CEOs of the other food chains, that in a typical month "the Glamour cover is just as bad, or almost as bad, as the Cosmo cover." On occasion, he added, "other women's magazines also put bold, lurid 'hot sex' tip promos on their front covers." He didn't list any other titles.
In his letter Peters chided the chains for providing these magazines "with an unimpeded 'open forum' at checkouts," and that covering the "raunch is not censorship, it's responsibility."
But he stressed that Morality in Media isn't taking the position that no magazine with the word sex on the front cover ever be openly displayed at checkouts. "We recognize that there are legitimate issues involving human sexuality and that articles dealing with such issues can be promoted on the front covers without pandering to prurient interest." Peters said in some instances "the cover 'bark' may be worse than the articles 'bite'." Some cover headlines "may be more offensive than the content of the articles they luridly promote."