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Press Release

January 30, 2008

PTC to CBS: Do Not Air Dexter on Broadcast TV

Sympathizing with a Serial Killer Hurts, Not Serves, Public Interest


LOS ANGELES (January 30, 2008) – The Parents Television Council™ called on CBS to cancel its plans to air Dexter, a graphically violent show about a “hero” who is a serial killer, that has aired on premium cable network Showtime for two seasons and is scheduled to begin airing on broadcast network CBS on Sunday, February 17.


“We are formally asking CBS to cancel its plan to air the first season of Dexter on its television network.  This show is not suitable for airing on broadcast television; it should remain on a premium subscription cable network. The biggest problem with the series is something that no amount of editing can get around: the series compels viewers to empathize with a serial killer, to root for him to prevail, to hope he doesn’t get discovered.  Dexter introduces audiences to the depths of depravity and indifference as it chronicles the main character’s troubled quest for vigilante justice by celebrating graphic, premeditated murder,” said PTC President Tim Winter.


“CBS has, in the past, routinely ignored its public interest responsibility as a broadcaster by airing indecent material.  They have admitted doing so and they have been fined for doing so; and they have entered into multiple contractual agreements with the FCC promising to be better stewards of the public airwaves. And now they intend to air material that effectively celebrates murder?


“We are putting CBS, its affiliates, and every potential sponsor of Dexter on notice: Parents will not tolerate this type of disturbing content on the public airwaves.  We are asking our members, our grassroots chapters and other concerned citizens across America to contact their local affiliates and ask them to reconsider their plan to air this show.  CBS needs to realize that this disturbing program is wholly inappropriate for the broadcast medium.”


In the course of the 12-episode first season that aired on Showtime, the main character, Dexter, stalks and murders seven victims.  He always uses the same procedures, injecting them with tranquilizers, after which they wake up naked and bound to a table with plastic wrap.  Dexter always slices his victim’s cheek with a scalpel, and keeps drops of their blood on glass slides as souvenirs.  He always explains why he’s killing them, in one case forcing his victim to look at the bodies of his own victims by threatening to cut off the man’s eyelids.  Frequently Dexter stabs his victims before dismembering them.  Sometimes he dismembers them while still alive.


“The consensus of medical opinion is that violent television content can cause long-term and irreparable harm to children.  Even CBS CEO Les Moonves acknowledges the devastating impact of violent media on children, having said, ‘Anyone who thinks the media has nothing to do with this [the bloodshed at Columbine] is an idiot.’  So my question to Mr. Moonves is this: why are you contributing to this culture of violence by airing Dexter?” Winter continued.


“The PTC has documented a pattern of adult-themed content migrating from premium cable to syndication on broadcast TV; and we are seeing a migration of graphic broadcast TV content from the 10 pm hour to earlier and earlier times of the day.  But Dexter is undoubtedly the worst example of this disturbing trend.  This is the first time that such a graphic program has gone from premium cable straight to primetime broadcast television.  While parental responsibility is always the key component of a family’s healthy media diet, CBS must grasp the magnitude of the harmful role it will be playing by airing such a violent and disturbing program on its broadcast network.”


TAKE ACTION! Contact Your Local CBS Affiliate Today!

View the CBS promo, "Good Dexter, Bad Dexter" on YouTube here.


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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