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Wal-Mart is reaffirming its commitment to place Cosmopolitan magazine behind blinders, in the latest development in a campaign led by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation and Victoria Hearst, one of the granddaughters of William Randolph Hearst, who founded the media conglomerate that now publishes Cosmopolitan.
Hearst and the NCSE want stores to put wrappers on all issues of Cosmopolitan and refuse to sell the magazine to minors, calling the women’s magazine a “pornographic publication filled with explicit ‘how-to’ sexual instructions and pictures.”
Walmart has had a policy for more than 10 years to cover up Cosmopolitan in its stores but the NCSE claims “the enforcement became increasingly lax in recent years.” The multinational retail corporation has now agreed to enforce that policy in its U.S. stores.
“I applaud Walmart for its decision to place Cosmopolitan behind blockers in order to protect minors from being targeted by a magazine that prides itself in promoting a pornified culture through its explicit articles and images,” NCSE executive director Dawn Hawkins said in a statement. “Cosmopolitan regularly targets children, yet continues to print adult content which children should not see or read.”
A Walmart representative told The Hollywood Reporter that the company is “sending out communications on the [magazine] blockers and their use.”
A representative for Cosmopolitan’s publisher Hearst Magazines, meanwhile, released the following statement: “Walmart’s approach to Cosmo’s newsstand presence in their stores has been consistent for more than a decade; there is no new information to share. Any indication otherwise, by the NCSE or other, is simply untrue.”
Both Victoria Hearst and the NCSE have campaigned against the content of Cosmo for years, with the NCSE placing the magazine on its Dirty Dozen list of 12 organizations contributing to sexual exploitation.
In announcing this news, Hawkins also praised Cosmo for releasing a September issue without “graphic sexual headlines” on its cover.
“This is a significant departure from Cosmopolitan‘s norm, as over 85 of Cosmopolitan’s recent issues were found to feature explicit headlines,” Hawkins added, calling the change “another victory” for the NCSE, “as the editorial content of the magazine seems to be shifting, at least in the next issue.”
Rite Aid and East Coast grocery chains Food Lion and Hannaford recently agreed to hide Cosmopolitan‘s cover behind pocket shields.
While Rite Aid has 4,566 stores in 31 states and Food Lion has 1,100 in 10 states, Walmart has 5,226 stores across all 50 states.
Aug. 7, 10:57 a.m. This story has been updated to better clarify what Walmart is doing and to include statements from the retailer and Hearst Magazines.
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