SALT LAKE CITY — A Mormon church-owned NBC affiliate in Utah has pulled the "Hannibal" TV show because of its graphic violence.

The first three episodes of the serial-killer drama that aired on KSL-TV became increasingly graphic and "extremely gory," drawing complaints from many viewers and rising eyebrows among station executives, said Tami Ostmark, KSL-TV vice president of marketing.

KSL executives were somewhat uncomfortable with the "Hannibal" show after viewing the pilot and promos but decided to give it a chance, Ostmark said.

"We knew it would be graphic," Ostmark said. "But as the episodes went on, it just got more graphic and gory."

NBC declined comment Wednesday.

"Hannibal" is the latest show the TV station – owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has its worldwide headquarters in Salt Lake City – has judged to be unsuitable for its audience.

In the fall of 2012, the station opted not to run "The New Normal," a sitcom about a gay couple who invites a surrogate mother into their home. Since 2002, the station hasn't aired "Saturday Night Live." KSL will fill its Thursday 9 p.m. time slot with a special edition of its newscast, Ostmark said.

Utah residents will still be able to watch the show on Utah's CW30 affiliate, which will air it Saturday at midnight, said Richard Doutre Jones, vice president and general manager of KTVX (the ABC affiliate) and KUCW (The CW affiliate).

The CW30 also airs "The New Normal" and "Saturday Night Live." Doutre Jones said there are many people that want to watch "Hannibal" and that since it's at night, adults can make "adult choices" about what to watch, he said.

"There are a lot of shows on a lot of stations and a lot of networks that are more gory and violent than Hannibal," Doutre Jones said. "It's a well-written, well-done show. I have no issue carrying the show."

The show is a prequel to the 1991 movie, "Silence of the Lambs," in which actor Anthony Hopkins earned an Oscar for his role as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, a psychiatrist-turned-serial-killer. NBC pulled an episode of the show earlier this month out of sensitivity to recent violence, including the Boston bombings. The episode featured a character who brainwashes children to kill other children.

KSL's Facebook page shows the decision to yank Hannibal has mixed support. Many applaud the station for protecting them and their children from stumbling on to the graphic violence, but others criticize the station for censorship and point out that viewers can change the channel if they don't like a show.

KSL-TV isn't coming under as much fire as it did in August 2012 when it opted not to air "The New Normal." At the time, executives said the program was inappropriate to air during family viewing time, the dialogue was excessively rude and crude and the scenes were too explicit.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation sharply criticized KSL's decision, and NBC defended the program, noting it makes "a statement about the changing definition of the nuclear family."

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  • "Hannibal" Cast

    (from left) Hugh Dancy, Caroline Dhavernas, Laurence Fishburne, Aaron Abrams, Lara Jean Chorostecki, Hettienne Park, Scott Thompson and Mads Mikkelsen

  • "Hannibal" Star Hugh Dancy as Special Agent Will Graham

    A former homicide detective turned teacher, Will Graham is pulled into the dark world of criminal profiling by Jack Crawford to help catch some of the most demented serial killers known to man. Socially awkward, but a brilliantly gifted, Graham navigates his way through the dark amalgam of haunting cases—guided by his FBI-appointed psychologist, Hannibal Lecter. Graham is constantly on guard against being consumed by the darkness he confronts on each case.

  • "Hannibal" Star Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter

    An accomplished psychologist, and sociopathic serial killer, at the height of his career. Dr. Lecter is assigned to be Will Graham’s psychiatrist, helping navigate the increasingly disturbing cases Graham encounters, while gaining unprecedented access to the FBI for himself. Excepting his homicidal tendencies, Dr. Lecter is every bit the gentleman, with his impeccable wit, astonishing intellect, gourmet palate and eye for the more refined aspects of life.

  • "Hannibal" Star Laurence Fishburne as Agent Jack Crawford

    Head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, Jack Crawford is laser-focused on his mission to apprehend the most vicious serial killers known to man. His unstoppable drive and dogged determination sometimes cause him to lose sight of the wellbeing of his team, particularly his most valuable weapon, Will Graham, who Crawford keeps on a tight leash. It also constantly threatens the delicate balance he strikes between his professional and personal life.

  • "Hannibal" Star Caroline Dhavernas as Dr. Alana Bloom

    Dr. Alana Bloom is a psychology professor, FBI consultant, and colleague to Will Graham, who is able to keep her work at a strict intellectual distance from her private life. She recognizes Will’s spectacular gift of empathizing with the murderers he hunts, but worries about Jack putting Will in harm’s way. A former student of Hannibal Lecter’s, Alana sometimes clashes with him over his unconventional treatments.

  • "Hannibal" Star Hettienne Park as Beverly Katz

    A member of the Behavioral Science Unit, specializing in fibers. Beverly has a keen sensibility when it comes to piecing together fragments of evidence. And she never handles Will with kid gloves, a trait appreciated by Will.

  • "Hannibal" Star Aaron Abrams as Brian Zeller

    A member of the Behavioral Science Unit, Zeller uses his medical degree to determine causes of death in victims. His arrogance and competitive nature sometimes place him at odds with Will.

  • "Hannibal" Star Scott Thompson as Jimmy Price

    Price is a master of forensics and technology within the Behavioral Science Unit. He makes the most of his years of experience, and knows the importance of levity and wit in maintaining one’s sanity on the job.

  • "Hannibal" Star Lara Jean Chorostecki as Freddie Lounds

    Trashy tabloid blogger and aspiring journalist Freddie Lounds is as driven, ambitious and cunning as she is unscrupulous, stopping at nothing to get her story. Lounds sees Will Graham and the FBI as targets, using them as fodder for her next sensational exposé.

  • "Apertif"

    Laurence Fishburne as Agent Jack Crawford, Hugh Dancy as Special Agent Will Graham

  • "Apertif"

    Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter

  • "Apertif"

    Mads Mikkelson as Dr. Hannibal Lecter

  • "Apertif"

    Hugh Dancy as Special Agent Will Graham

  • "Apertif"

    Hugh Dancy as Special Agent Will Graham

  • "Apertif"

    Laurence Fishburne as Agent Jack Crawford, Hugh Dancy as Special Agent Will Graham