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'Duck Dynasty' sets return date

'Duck Dynasty' sets return date
Phil Robertson, founder of the family business Duck Commander, stars in the A&E series "Duck Dynasty." (Associated Press)

Things have been relatively quiet for the Robertson family in the past few months. So when "Duck Dynasty" returns to the air on Nov. 19, many will be curious to see if its ratings are up or down.

The unscripted A&E series about the famously bearded Robertson family of West Monroe, La., was once a ratings powerhouse, reaching a peak of 12 million viewers in 2013.

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Then family patriarch Phil Robertson gave a GQ magazine interview in which he called homosexuality a sin and denied seeing black people mistreated in the pre-civil rights era Deep South. He was quickly suspended by A&E and outrage from supporters and detractors heated up. Robertson's suspension was ultimately lifted after nine days and had no discernible effect on the content of the show.

Despite the brief frenzy around the show and the family in late 2013, ratings for the show's sixth season were roughly a third of its peak.

In an interview with The Times in July, David McKillop, executive vice president and general manager of A&E Networks, said, "I don't think there's any definitive proof that the controversy itself had an impact on the ratings. These things tend to burn very, very bright and then begin to settle into a plateau."

At the time, the show's seventh season, which will begin airing in November, had already been filmed.

Since then, family member Sadie Robertson has become a contestant on ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" and Phil's nephew Zach Dasher has gotten involved in politics, running for one of Louisiana's congressional seats.

The new season will show Sadie's prep work for her "Dancing With the Stars" turn, alongside her partner, Mark Ballas. It will also show the Robertson family visiting their ancestral home of Scotland and the family taking over a different TV show for a holiday special.

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