''Coupling'' may be NBC's great hope to succeed ''Friends'' in the sexy-singles comedy slot, but some NBC viewers aren't going to get to see the show. The series won't debut until Sept. 25, but affiliates in Utah and Indiana have already given the show a thumbs down, saying it's too racy for local viewers. Both KSL in Salt Lake City and WNDU, a station owned by the University of Notre Dame, said that they had been deluged with complaints about the sitcom, based on what viewers had seen in the show's promos.
Based on a show of the same name from Britain, ''Coupling'' is about a ''Friends''-like sextet, three single guys and gals who spend a lot of time in frank discussions about their sex lives. KSL programming manager Russ Crabb told Salt Lake City's Deseret Morning News that station execs agonized for a long time before deciding not to air the show. ''This one was talked about and considered at length,'' he said.
The Notre Dame station explained its decision in a statement, saying: ''We strongly feel that the premiere episode, which was made available for affiliates to preview, is little more than a succession of crude sex jokes, which, when taken in total, simply push the envelope well beyond the boundaries of our community's standards.''
News of the ''Coupling'' rejections came the same day as the release of a study by the Parents Television Council saying that primetime profanity on the broadcast networks had jumped over the last four years. The group found a 94.8 percent increase in salty talk during the so-called ''family hour'' of 8 to 9 p.m., and a 109 percent increase from 9 to 10 p.m. (''Coupling'' will air at 9:30.) The PTC urged the entertainment industry to ''get serious about reducing the flood of vulgarity'' in primetime, and it urged the Federal Communications Commission to get serious as well about enforcing broadcast decency statutes.