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Press Release

February 20, 2008

CBS Deems Serial Killer TV Show to be Appropriate for 14-Year Old Children

PTC Calls on “Dexter” Sponsors and CBS Affiliates to Reconsider Support for Mass Murderer ‘Hero’


LOS ANGELES (February 20, 2008) – The Parents Television Council™ condemned CBS for airing Dexter, a premium cable network series featuring a serial killer as the “hero,” due to its dark, violent themes and inaccurate television rating.


Despite repeated public promises for responsible edits and accurate ratings guidelines for parents, CBS elected to assign this graphic program with an adult storyline a TV-14 rating, meaning that CBS decided that the show would be appropriate for children as young as 14 years of age.  The show was supposedly edited for broadcast television, although the show featured the main character, Dexter, shown with a victim taped to a medical-style table, cutting the man with a scalpel and then approaching his head with an electric saw.  A few other lowlights include Dexter shown covered in blood, lining up severed body parts on a table, and Dexter driving his car while the severed head of a woman hits the car and rolls into the street.


“Despite countless public calls for restraint and corporate responsibility, CBS broke its own promise to the public that it would employ careful editing and accurate ratings guidelines for Dexter. Depictions of violence were barely altered from the Showtime Network original format.  If, as CBS repeatedly promised, the program was targeted only to mature audiences, why wouldn’t they assign a mature audience rating of TV-MA?  What could possibly lead them to determine that a show about a pathological serial killer ‘hero’ could be appropriate for 14-year old children?  The only reason is corporate greed.  CBS knows full well that advertisers would flee in droves if the program’s rating accurately reflected its content,” said PTC President Tim Winter.


“The suits at CBS have wantonly turned their back on the fundamental public interest obligations incumbent upon those who use the public airwaves even spending $4.2 million in 2007 to lobby the federal government about indecent programming and other issues.  When each new day brings a headline news story about yet another senseless mass-murder in America, how could CBS make such an irresponsible programming decision?  Whether it is a school shooting, a shopping mall murder, a slaughter at a city council meeting or a family execution, the epidemic of violence continues unabated.  The broadcast industry must grasp the significance of the role it plays by desensitizing and validating violent and unlawful behavior.


“We are calling on each and every CBS affiliate to stand up to the network’s arrogant and harmful programming decisions.  The affiliates, many of which have echoed our concern over the content of Dexter, have the ultimate power to pre-empt this show, and we urge them to exercise their power to do so without fear of reprisal from CBS.  Furthermore, we are calling on each and every corporate advertiser to reconsider its sponsorship of such a graphically violent and disturbing program. Advertisers on Dexter must realize that they share responsibility for its content and the harmful message it sends to the public – and especially to children.”


The following companies advertised on the first episode of Dexter:


Capital One

Showtime Network


Vantage Point (PG-13)

Air Wick Aroma Therapy

Michael Clayton DVD (R)

The Other Boleyn Girl (PG-13)


Act Restoring Mouthwash


Burger King

American Gangster DVD (R)

Semi-Pro (Not Yet Rated)

Dannon Dan Active

10,000 B.C. (PG-13)

Turbo Tax


Zantac 150

30 Days of Night DVD (R)


TAKE ACTION NOW! Urge The Sponsors to Reconsider Their Support for Violent Content

Click here to look up contact information for many of these advertisers.

TAKE ACTION! Help Us Stop Future Airings of Dexter.


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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