This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, August 6, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: If you think Playboy Enterprises (search) is hot now, the adult- entertainment firm is about to heat things up a lot more. Playboy reported an 8-percent increase in revenues today. Growth was primarily driven by its online business and television programming, which will have more original programming with more explicit adult content this fall.
Joining us now from Chicago, Christie Hefner. Christie is Playboy Enterprises chairman and CEO.
Christie, good to have you back.
CAVUTO: What’s behind this switch -- and maybe that’s too strong a word -- or focus?
HEFNER: In terms of what’s driven our profitability?
CAVUTO: This move toward more explicit fare?
HEFNER: Well, we actually haven’t made any change in the standards of the networks for several years now. We did start to offer less edited versions of our movie services in concert with the move to digital by the cable companies, who felt that, with the protections of that technology in terms of signal bleed, they were comfortable offering movies in their original versions.
CAVUTO: Are you comfortable, though, moving Playboy away from what was kind of soft sex to something very different?
HEFNER: Well, as you heard, my answer was about the movie networks because, in fact, the Playboy positioning has remained constant really since the beginning almost 50 years ago, and you’re quite right, that really isn’t about sex, it’s about sexiness, it’s about pop culture, celebrity, the Playmates. That’s really the Playboy difference, whether that’s in print or online.
CAVUTO: Now, having said all of that, though, you’re competing, you know, on the Internet, obviously, but a lot of people are finding that they can get this stuff for free, that the appeal, whether in print or even on the Internet or on TV itself, is simply not what it used to be and that, no matter what you do to change the product, Christie, it’s still going to be a tough sell. What do you say?
HEFNER: Well, we are actually reaching more consumers under the Playboy brand than at any time in our history, so I think the proof is in the pudding. The reality is that "Playboy" is one of the 20 most searched words on the Internet.
People really do desire the beautiful, glamorous style of photography that Playboy represents, the access to celebrities that Playboy uniquely has, and then we’ve been able to package that into programming for couples with the success of Playboy TV.
So I think the fact of the magazine’s leadership among all magazines for five decades, along with its success online -- and, as you know, very few content sites have proven the ability to make money online where we have -- makes it true that we have a sustainable difference in the style and distinction of Playboy content.
CAVUTO: Do you worry that this push now where people are responding to lot more skin, a lot more sex in publications by refusing -- that is on the part of store owners -- to carry those publications began with Wal-Mart, that extended to 7-Eleven, and some of these others that are saying no more -- does that hurt you?
HEFNER: Well, we never actually had access to the mass merchants like Wal-Mart, so it hasn’t affected us. Our types of newsstand distribution are in the bookstores, convenience stores, and transportation terminals, like airports and train stations.
I don’t think it’s a good thing, however, for anybody when consumers’ choices are limited by what may be a few people who are complaining. I think the idea of the world of ideas is that people get to choose the magazine or the movie or the CD that they want but not dictate to others what they can choose.
CAVUTO: All right. Real quickly. Your dad doing OK? He’s having fun?
HEFNER: He’s doing great. Thanks for asking. He’s getting very excited, as you can imagine, about the fact that we’re about to celebrate the 50th anniversary. We’re going to do a kickoff...
CAVUTO: If I were he, I would -- I guess I’d be, too. All right.
HEFNER: Yes, really. We’re going to do kickoff party in Las Vegas in September and then a big party in New York in December.
CAVUTO: OK. Christie, always a pleasure. Thank you very much.
HEFNER: You’re welcome.
CAVUTO: Christie Hefner of Playboy Enterprises fame.
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