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PTC Blasts Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger As “Anti-Consumer & Anti-Family”

By | Thursday February 13, 2014 @ 11:47am PST

PTC_logo110916212735-150x150__130826223438Analysts may feel Comcast‘s just announced $45.2B all-stock deal to purchase Time Warner Cable is a good bet, but there will certainly be more than a few voices coming out against the mega-merger. One of the first to formally oppose the deal is the Parents Television Council. The sometimes controversial and always vocal advocacy group today said the deal “will invariably be anti-consumer and anti-family” in a statement. While the PTC is known for coming out against the TV rating system, on-air profanity and content, the group also has been consistent in its opposition to cable bundling — the source of its issues with the TWC-Comcast deal.  “A horizontally and vertically integrated Comcast/Time Warner Cable Comcast-Time-Warner-Cable-logos__140213130107-150x150entity would wield calamitous market leverage over consumers,” PTC president Tim Winter said today in a statement. “Unless and until Comcast – or, for that matter, any other potential suitor of Time Warner Cable – agrees to allow customers to choose and pay for only the cable networks they want coming into their homes, the Parents Television Council will vehemently oppose any such merger.”

Related: WGA West & WGA East Slam Comcast-TWC Merger

The PTC has long advocated cable unbundling as part of its agenda, with the argument that the present system “forces families to underwrite explicit content.” The group isn’t the only one against bundling: Last May, Sen. John McCain introduced The TV Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 to, in part, end bundling, though that effort has been quiet since. Regardless, Comcast and TWC as well as investors will have to wait for a  potentially long regulatory approval process from the FCC and the DOJ.

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PTC: Violence Levels On Broadcast And Cable “Virtually Indistinguishable”

By | Monday December 9, 2013 @ 5:19am PST

PTC_logo110916212735-150x150A few weeks after American and Dutch researchers found that violence in PG-13 films has now exceeded R-rated levels, the Parents Television Council has come up with a violence scorecard for broadcast vs cable. In a new study (read it: here), the PTC says, “The volume and degree of violent content shown on broadcast and cable television are virtually indistinguishable,” and that broadcast TV shows “consistently underrated graphically-violent content as appropriate for 14-year-old children, even though similar content on the cable networks was rated for mature audiences only.” The PTC is especially concerned with NBC’s Revolution, which, it says, contained an average 91.5 acts of violence per episode over four installments considered.

Related: Gun Violence In U.S. Movies On The Rise; PG-13 Levels Exceed R-Rated Films: Study

revolution1Among cable shows included in the study were American Horror Story, The Walking Dead, Sons Of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Copper, Justified, and Bullet In The Face. They were compared with broadcast dramas like Criminal Minds, Revolution, The Blacklist, Supernatural, Sleepy Hollow, CSI, and Law & Order: SVU. According to the findings, 37% of all graphic violence in the study aired on broadcast.

About a year ago, the watchdog blasted ABC’s Scandal for what it termed a “brutal” torture scene during an episode that was rated TV-14. At the time, PTC president Tim Winter argued, “It is … Read More »

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PTC’s Buyers Guide Lets Viewers Holiday Shop — And Spank Hollywood!

By | Thursday November 21, 2013 @ 7:33am PST

Just in time for holiday buying season, The Parents Television Council has released its annual Best and Worst TV Advertisers List. But this year, PTC has ranked advertisers by brand category, rather than by corporate parent, to facilitate use of the list at the mall. For instance, PTC has determined Charmin to be the most family-friendly toilet paper, whereas the use of Quilted Northern toilet paper may support graphic violence and sex on TV, PTC warns. Every time you wipe with Charmin, you’ll be delivering a blow to the sexy, violent TV programming that gets PTC’s undies in such a bunch. Shows like, well, Blue Bloods, and the NCISes, and The Blacklist, and don’t even get them started on Chuck Lorre’s comedies, and The Good Wife — wait, The Good Wife? The Good Wife is on the PTC’s “Red Light” list  (PTC uses a trademarked traffic light system of grading TV programs) because:

- Sexual content is frequent and  intense.

- Alicia has received oral sex from her husband and had an orgasm in a clinch with Will.

- Also, there was a case last season revolving around a woman who hosted a website for men to find women for the sole purpose of committing adultery. 

- Last season, one of the firm employees was shown receiving oral sex in bed with her girlfriend, and later having semi-violent sexual exchanges with her estranged husband.

- Foul language has included ‘ass,’ ‘hell,’ ‘piss,’ ‘damn,’ ‘crap,’ and ‘whore.’ 

- Violence has been minor, in the form of flashbacks or crime scene photos. In one episode, a man was shown dead after a stabbing, and in another there was a depiction of a shooting in a convenience store.

Getting back to the Holiday Shopping List: “This year’s analysis should provide greater clarity for those members of the public who wish to ‘vote with their wallets’ and have a direct impact in support of family entertainment,” PTC president Tim Winter said this morning. “We encourage the public to use this list when they’re shopping, and we hope that the worst brands are motivated to improve the direction of their media spending.”

Related: PTC Blasts ‘Family Guy’ Read More »

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PTC Blasts ‘Family Guy’ For Jokes About Rape, Sexual Exploitation Of Kids, And “Internal Defrosting Of Frozen Hot Dogs”

By | Friday November 15, 2013 @ 8:00am PST

The FCC will get a mess of complaints about the November 10 episode of Fox’s animated Seth MacFarlane comedy Family Guy after Parents Television Council encouraged members today to file broadcast indecency complaints with the commission. PTC says it sprang into action because the episode contained explicit jokes about rape, molestation, sexual exploitation of children — and the “sexualized use of food and perverse ‘internal defrosting’ of frozen hot dogs.” PTC sent out word of the campaign this morning to the media, with a helpful partial transcript of the episode:

- Upset at being threatened by a bully and challenged to a fight, teenage Meg runs into the girl’s restroom. She finds pedophile Quagmire inside.

Meg: “What are you doing in here?”

Quagmire: “This is my base of operations.”

Quagmire’s phone beeps. Voice on phone: “Mr. Quagmire, the girl’s gym class will be in the showers in twenty minutes.”

- Quagmire recounts being bullied by a girl when he was in high school: “That was the beginning of a long, abusive relationship. It’s one thing if you put your penis inside-out in the safety of your own bedroom. But to have it done in the cafeteria? To this day, I can’t have sex with a woman against her will without thinking about rape.” Read More »

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MTV Boasts Big EMA Ratings Boost But Forgets To Say Why

By | Tuesday November 12, 2013 @ 12:26pm PST

Word that Miley Cyrus lit a joint during her acceptance speech appears to have ignited U.S. viewer interest in the MTV European Music Awards, which clocked its biggest audience ever in this country. That said, its most-watched audience is about 1.2 million viewers.

MTV forecast that, based on early data, the 2013 EMAs is on course to achieve an even higher consolidated worldwide audience than last year, when an estimated 39.4 million viewers tuned in and produced a record global audience for the awards show.

MTV did not forecast how many of those viewers were utterly disappointed in Sunday’s broadcast. As it had done with the U.S. telecast, MTV wiped Miley from its announcement about the trophy show’s “record-breaking response on MTV’s digital and social platforms, marking this year’s show as the best ever in network history for votes, visitors, video views and social media activity.” In the U.S., nearly 2 million page views were registered the day of show, MTV said, without a hint of what might have caused that. MTV did, however, note it’s a year-over-year uptick of more than 1,000%, while day-after page views hit 1.3 million, up 180% year-over-year. (Watch the edited clip of Miley’s acceptance speech after the jump.)

Related: PTC Praises MTV For Censoring Miley Cyrus’ Smoking At EMAs: Video
Read More »

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PTC Slams Gotham’s IFC Center For “Industrial Fraud” In Letting Teens See NC-17 ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’

By | Wednesday October 30, 2013 @ 1:46pm PDT

EXCLUSIVEBlue Is The Warmest Color has gotten the Parents Television Council steamed in all the wrong ways, so much so that the watchdog group has veered from small-screen scrutiny to take on the racy feature film. The advocacy group ripped into NYC’s IFC Center for last week’s decision to flout the MPAA’s adults-only NC-17 rating for the 2013 Palme d’Or winner and invite teenagers to view the sexual-awakening tale that charmed Cannes. “The IFC Center’s decision to usurp parental and family authority by allowing unfettered access to children of adult-rated, explicit sexual content is a direct assault on parents and families across the country,” PTC President Tim Winter thundered in a letter sent to IFC Center General Manager and SVP John Vanco. “Your selective unenforcement (sic) of the MPAA guidelines in this instances approaches industrial fraud, in that the system is intended specifically for the purpose of parental reliance, and that reliance has been obviated. We ask that you immediately reconsider this self-serving and undermining business decision, and instead do what is in the right and best interests of parents, families and children. The Parents Television Council will bring its full weight and credit to bear to make a national issue of your decision, via every available means, until it is reversed,” the letter concludes. It isn’t clear how PTC’s full weight will impact a Gotham art house theater; MPAA issues its ratings, but those classifications are voluntary, and theaters are not under any obligation to follow them.

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Read More »

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UPDATE: ‘SOA’ Creator Kurt Sutter Reacts To PTC Outrage Over Season Debut

By | Thursday September 12, 2013 @ 6:32pm PDT

UPDATE, 6:20 PM: Kurt Sutter responded this afternoon to those who have savaged his Sons of Anarchy season debut over its school shooting scene. That includes the Parents Television Council, which used the FX drama’s episode to once again demand that Washington allow consumers to buy networks a la carte. “Obviously there is some blowback today,” Sutter said in a webcast on his WTF web page. “The PTC — I would imagine these are not evil people, but they’re just not very intelligent or intuitive people. … The fact that these people want to be monitoring what my children watch is terrifying. He suggested the PTC’s “simplistic, dangerous view” is “perhaps influenced by certain religious groups and people with other agendas” which, “whenever that stuff crosses the line into censorship, it’s just scary, not just on a creative level but on a personal level”. Read More »

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PTC Calls The MPAA’s ‘Check The Box’ Campaign An “Empty Gesture”

While the Parents Television Council’s view is no surprise, the activist group made it forcefully this week in a letter to MPAA chief Chris Dodd calling for meaningful changes in the movie ratings system and its treatment of on-screen violence. The “Check The Box” initiative that Dodd unveiled at last month’s CinemaCon confab changes movie ratings labeling to help people see the specific rationale — for example whether a PG-13 or R-rated film received the designation due to its use of profanity, nudity, smoking, drug use, or violence. PTC says that just gives studios “the appearance of doing something about media violence without actually doing anything at all.” The MPAA can “keep rating violent movies PG-13″ which means studios can “market those violent films to kids … PG-13 films run the gamut from Les Miserables to Drag Me To Hell. And because it applies to everything, in practice, it means nothing.” Read More »

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PTC Blasts ABC’s ‘Scandal’ For Torture Scene

By | Monday January 14, 2013 @ 4:24pm PST

The Parents Television Council is lambasting ABC for a torture scene in last week’s episode of Scandal that the group says reveals how broken the content-rating system is. “The brutal nature of that scene, which was rated as appropriate for a 14-year-old child, refutes statements made by an industry claiming to be responsible and concerned about societal violence,” the PTC said in a statement Monday. The January 10 episode of the political drama from creator/executive producer Shonda Rhimes had a content advisory at the beginning of the broadcast. But calling the three-minute scene “intense, explicit and bloodied,” the heads-up wasn’t enough for the advocacy group. “It is sickening just how quickly the entertainment industry was able to move past the tragedy of Newtown and get back to business as usual,” said PTC president Tim Winter. The PTC particularly singles out the timing of the episode, coming on the same day entertainment industry representatives met with Vice President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss curbing gun violence in the wake of the Newtown school shooting. The episode marked a Season 2 ratings high for the Kerry Washington-starring drama. Read More »

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PTC Launches Pre-Emptive Strike Against Howard Stern On ‘America’s Got Talent’

Howard Stern Parents Television CouncilThe Parents Television Council has been quick to pounce on any number of series or personalities it considers unsafe for the public airwaves, but today’s letter to advertisers of NBC’s America’s Got Talent takes the step of condemning a show that hasn’t had a chance to offend anyone yet. In its missive, the PTC for a second time rips the network for bringing on Howard Stern as a judge on the show in the family-friendly 8 PM time slot. Of course, Talent doesn’t premiere until May 14, but no sense in waiting — let’s just assume Stern is going to provide “a sharp increase in explicit content”. From the letter: “There can be, and there must be, a presumption that Mr. Stern will only continue to conduct himself in precisely the same manner as he has done for decades. Unless and until his conduct consistently reflects and respects the time, place and manner of an 8:00 p.m. broadcast television program, we would urge you and your advertising agency to consider alternate network television programming for your media dollars.” The tactic is similar to the one used last year to attack NBC’s The Playboy Club — though it turned out that series didn’t need much help in being shown the door.

Related: Howard Stern Answers Critics Of His New Job As ‘America’s Got Talent’ Judge Read More »

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PTC Targets ABC Comedy ‘Don’t Trust The B—-’ Over “Sexist & Offensive” Content

By | Tuesday April 17, 2012 @ 9:11am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

Camouflaging the word “bitch” in the title didn’t fool the Parents Television Council. The watchdog is up in arms over what it deems is “offensive content” on ABC’s new comedy Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23, which premiered last week.  According to the PTC, “the program is a sexist mixed-bag of hedonism, drug-use, alcohol abuse (including the main character plying a 13-year-old boy with alcohol to get him drunk) and explicit levels of promiscuity that are shocking even by today’s broadcast TV standards.” The organization’s primary targets are the show’s main advertisers, AT&T and Volkswagen.

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PTC Blasts NBC & NFL Over Halftime Flap

By | Monday February 6, 2012 @ 8:54am PST
Nellie Andreeva

Super Bowl Half-Time Show Controversy Prompts Apologies From NBC & NFL

The Parents Television Council this morning criticized NBC and NFL over the Super Bowl halftime show incident involving British rapper M.I.A. briefly flashing a middle finger in front of the camera before the network was able to blur the image. The watchdog called for NBC and NFL to punish those responsible for the flap but stopped short of announcing the filing of a formal complaint with the FCC. At least for now. Here is the statement from PTC president Tim Winter:

“NBC fumbled and the NFL lied because a performer known as M.I.A. felt it necessary to flip off millions of families. It is unfortunate that a spectacular sporting event was overshadowed once again by broadcasting the selfish acts of a desperate performer.

Read More »

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Howard Stern’s New Gig Draws Ire Of PTC

By | Thursday December 15, 2011 @ 10:44am PST

You knew the Parents Television Council has had its finger on the “Send” button of this one ever since shock jock Howard Stern was rumored to be in the running to replace Piers Morgan as a judge on NBC’s summer hit America’s Got Talent. Well, the move became official this morning, and PTC president Tim Winter ripped into NBC brass for it. “The once-proud broadcast network has lost its way and has made it clear it holds no concern whatsoever for children and families,” he said “It also risks losing millions in advertising dollars.” It will be interesting to see how network execs and advertisers deal with Stern, who moved to satellite radio to get away from the constraints he’ll certainly find on broadcast television. And how long before Stern says something he shouldn’t and NBC releases its own statement about how shocked they are that he would say something like that? Doesn’t his hire suggest that is NBC’s expectation? Stay tuned.

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Parents Television Council Files FCC Indecency Complaint Against ‘X Factor’

By | Friday September 23, 2011 @ 6:48am PDT

UPDATED: Wasn’t hard to see this one coming: The Parents Television Council says that it will complain to the FCC that Fox’s The X Factor violated the broadcast decency rules on Wednesday. The group says that the program showed a contestant, Geo Godley, “dropping his pants and exposing himself during a song and dance routine.” The performance took place shortly after 8 PM in the Central and Mountain Time zones, when the PTC says indecent content is prohibited on broadcast television. “The prolonged, previously videotaped footage of a contestant dancing nude on the X Factor stage represents a conscious decision by the producers — with the approval of the network’s broadcast standards department — to intentionally air this content in front of millions of families during hours when they knew full well that children would be watching,” PTC president Tim Winters says. He added that “If Godley performed his act in public, he would have been arrested. But if he performs it in front of a Fox camera, his act is beamed via the public airwaves into every home in the nation.” X Factor judge Paula Abdul called the performance “shocking and disgusting,” while L.A. Reid described it as “offensive, disgusting, distasteful and upsetting.”

But TV Watch, a coalition that includes TV networks and free speech advocates, says that PTC mangled some facts. Contrary to PTC’s claim that X Factor was rated ”TV-PG DL,” TV Watch says it was “TV-14, D … Read More »

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PTC Vs. ‘Playboy Club’: Who’s Winning?

By | Friday September 16, 2011 @ 2:32pm PDT

It’s always a bit of a risk when watchdog groups like the Parents Television Council go public with criticism of whatever it is that’s gotten their goat — or, in the PTC’s case, their bunny. In effect, going public makes it public, and therefore keeps the conversation going about something you don’t want to talk about. Case in point: Tim Winter’s group has been on NBC’s new series The Playboy Club from the start for its direct reference to the 1960s clubs that were spun off from Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine. There’s been calls to boycott advertisers, kudos for the decision by a Salt Lake City affiliate not to air the show, and general anger at NBC and parent Comcast attempting in the PTC’s view to “mainstream pornography.”

Now today comes the latest “hey look at this don’t watch this” in the form of a press release ripping the show’s tie-in with Playboy that has series star Laura Benanti posing on this week’s cover — timed to the series premiere Monday night — and is priced at 60 cents, the same as it was during the era in which the NBC show is set. The PTC says NBC is being hypocritical by insisting that the series isn’t about the nudity aspect of Playboy, but rather about the times in which the clubs thrived — and the group certainly has … Read More »

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Report: Prime Time Cartoons Show Kids “Shocking Levels” Of Sex and Drugs

The Parents Television Council fired another volley today at one of its favorite targets: adult-themed cartoons that also attract kids. The activist group called for “sweeping reform” of the TV content rating system as a study it released points to what it says are “shocking levels” of sex and drug references in primetime on animation channels that are popular with kids between 12 and 17. “Adult content isn’t just creeping into the cartoons that kids today are watching the most; it has overtaken much of that animated programming,” PTC president Tim Winter says. “Our data demonstrates that today’s norm is profanity-laden storylines involving everything from rape and cocaine to STDs and crystal meth.” PTC is especially upset with programming on Turner’s Cartoon Network and Adult Swim: The report, titled Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter, gave each an “F” grade for their handling of adult-themed animation. Disney Channel and Nick At Nite each received an “A”. Read More »

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Parents Television Council Urges More Stations To Preempt NBC’s ‘Playboy Club’

By | Wednesday July 27, 2011 @ 10:26am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

TV watchdog Parents Television Council already targeted NBC’s new drama The Playboy Club during the pilot stage, blasting parent Comcast over nudity clauses in the actors’ contracts. Now, following a Mormon Church-owned Utah NBC affiliate’s decision not to carry the show, the PTC is urging more stations to follow suit and preempt the drama set in the 1960s at the first Playboy Club in Chicago. The PTC mocks the official series description, “a sophisticated series about the transitional times of the early 1960s and the complex lives of a group of working-class women.” “Putting a veneer of sophistication on an industry that exploits women and destroys families is not laudable, it is disgraceful,” PTC president Tim Winter wrote in letters sent out to NBC stations around the country. “In what manner does such the airing of such material reconcile with your public interest obligations as a broadcast licensee?” Read More »

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MTV Cancels Racy Drama Series ‘Skins’

By | Thursday June 9, 2011 @ 1:37pm PDT
Nellie Andreeva

EXCLUSIVE: MTV will not be going with a second season of its racy teen drama Skins. The news is not particularly surprising as it’s been almost three months since the series ended its freshman run. “Skins is a global television phenomenon that, unfortunately, didn’t connect with a US audience as much as we had hoped,” MTV said in a statement. “We admire the work that the series’ creator Bryan Elsley did in adapting the show for MTV, and appreciate the core audience that embraced it.”

Skins, an adaptation of the praised British series, became one of MTV’s most talked-about shows ever when TV watchdog the Parents Television Council characterized it as possibly “the most dangerous television show for children that we have ever seen.” It called on the Feds to open an investigation for possible child pornography and exploitation on the show, which, in keeping with the British original, employed (often underage) teen actors to play the characters of the same age. That led to a number of advertisers pulling from the show, but MTV stuck with it and aired the entire first season with small editing of the more explicit content. Ratings-wise, Skins was solid while not spectacular. It opened with 3.3 million viewers for its premiere, which followed Jersey Shore, dropping half of it in its second episode. After several weeks of declines, the show’s numbers picked up toward the end … Read More »

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PTC Attacks Billboard Music Awards Over Rihanna & Britney Spears’ ‘S&M’ Song

By | Tuesday May 24, 2011 @ 10:10am PDT
Nellie Andreeva

After helping turn so-called “fleeting expletives” at the 2002 and 2003 Billboard Music Awards into the subject of a legal war between the FCC and the broadcast networks that went all the way to the Supreme Court, the Parents Television Council is going  again after the music awards show. This time, it is over the opening number of Sunday’s show in Las Vegas: Rihanna and Britney Spears’ performance of S&M. “I cannot imagine what would possibly lead the ABC television network to air a profanity-laced, S&M sex show on primetime broadcast television,” PTC president Tim Winter said. “The overtly sexualized performance by Rihanna and Britney Spears was no accident or mishap, but a deliberate effort to target teens with images and lyrics that glamorize whips, chains and other sexual fetishes. What happened in Vegas should have stayed in Vegas, as the saying goes. It certainly has no place at 8:00 pm on the publicly-owned broadcast airwaves.”

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