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Press Release

August 7, 2007

PTC Condemns News Corp. for Reckless Programming Decision

Subsidiary MyNetworkTV Airs Adult Cable Program on Broadcast During Family Hour


LOS ANGELES (August 7, 2007) – The Parents Television Council™ denounced News Corp. and its broadcast television network, MyNetworkTV, for airing an adult-targeted, Mature-rated, cable program on broadcast television at the start of the so-called “Family Hour.”  On August 1, the first two episodes of the new FX drama Damages aired nationally on MyNetworkTV at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. ET/PT in place of a previously scheduled concert.  Neither the sexual content nor the violent content was edited from the MA-rated cable version of these programs when they re-aired on broadcast, though a few profanities were deleted.


The first episode of Damages originally aired on the FX cable network on Tuesday, July 24 at 10 p.m. and was rated TV-MA with content descriptors for sex and language. The second episode originally aired on FX on Tuesday, July 31 and was rated TV-MA with language, sex, and violence descriptors. When aired on MyNetworkTV, both episodes were rated TV-14, with the language, sex, and violence descriptors.


“The programming executives at News Corp. and its subsidiaries have demonstrated once again their blatant disregard for children and families, in spite of giving considerable lip-service about being responsible. Coming less than a year after airing a scripted ‘S-word’ on an 8 p.m. broadcast program, this contemptuous act – airing an adult-themed, mature-rated, 10 p.m. cable program on broadcast television during the family hour – illustrates just how little they truly care about their public interest obligation,” PTC President Tim Winter said.


“Such wanton behavior exposes this corporation’s true intentions, despite what executives tell the Congress about their desire to act ‘responsibly’ and treat its viewing audience with ‘respect’.  In his June 26 testimony before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, the president of Fox Broadcasting (and former FX executive) Peter Liguori asserted that Fox takes seriously their ‘responsibility to inform viewers about [their] content.’  But if News Corp. intended to demonstrate any responsibility to its viewers, there wouldn’t be such a glaring and egregious discrepancy between the ratings for the FX and MyNetworkTV broadcasts when the content, other than language, was virtually unchanged. If we are to take Mr. Ligouri at his word, and I am certainly eager to do so, then he should immediately investigate this matter, including a complete review of the MyNetworkTV standards and practices staff who allowed this to happen.


“More children watch television during the 8 pm hour than on Saturday mornings or after school. If the Fox executive suite truly cared about acting responsibly, the company wouldn’t put an adult-targeted, MA-rated cable program on one of its broadcast networks at the start of the family hour.  Their FX channel has proven to be a cable network that regularly – and proudly – attacks the decency sensibilities of most American families, and now this same graphic and gratuitous content is airing on broadcast television at 8 pm.


“This behavior proves once again that the self-serving TV ratings system managed by the industry is a sham. Television networks cannot be trusted to rate their own programs. If parents are ever going to trust and rely on a TV ratings system for content information, the system needs to be accurate, consistent and transparent. The networks must be held to an objective and uniform standard, and there needs to be a real consequence for failing to apply ratings accurately.


“In addition, it’s likely that this program’s sponsors were caught off guard by the last-minute schedule change; they may have been led to believe they were buying time on a concert and could reasonably expect a decent content environment for their ads. Instead, their ads went to support graphic sex and violence. MyNetworkTV should have communicated this program change to every single advertiser to make sure the advertisers were comfortable sponsoring this material. If the network did not do so, then each advertiser should be offered a full refund of their media purchase. The PTC will be contacting all national advertisers whose commercials appeared on this program.”


So You Think You Can Rate a TV Show? Damages on MyNetworkTV - PTC Article


To schedule an interview with a PTC representative, please contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Megan Franko (ext. 148) at (703) 683-5004.

The Parents Television Council™ (www.parentstv.org®) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.




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