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Press Release

May 5, 2008

PTC Asks Berkshire Hathaway Not to Underwrite Graphic TV Content


OMAHA, Neb. (May 5, 2008) – At the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting in Omaha on Saturday, May 3, the company was pressed on whether its television advertising dollars reflect its corporate values.  Father Val Peter, executive director emeritus of Boys Town, spoke on behalf of the Parents Television Council™ urging Berkshire Hathaway to reconsider placing GEICO brand advertisements on shows like “Dirt” and “The Sopranos.” The following are excerpts from his statement:

I am addressing this meeting because Berkshire Hathaway consistently advertises on programming that contains graphic violence, excessive sexual content and foul language and to urge you to stop such advertising.  Each year, our analysts release our ranking of best and worst advertisers with Berkshire Hathaway scoring near the bottom at 444 out of 452 national advertisers.


“Mr. Buffet you are clearly a philanthropic leader, committing to donate most of your fortune to charity.  Your commitment to world health and improving education in the U.S. has helped millions around the world.  Surely, you understand how Berkshire Hathaway’s irresponsibility in the media marketplace can undermine your good works. 


“It is a shame that Berkshire Hathaway cannot demonstrate leadership as a responsible corporate citizen because it consistently advertises on some of the most violent and vulgar programming on television.  It appears to us at the Parents Television Council that Berkshire Hathaway does not have media guidelines in place to keep its name off of programs containing graphic and explicit content.


“Over the past year, Berkshire Hathaway has sponsored such shows as ‘Dirt’ and ‘The Sopranos’ on A&E. Unsuitable content such as masturbation, self-mutilation, racism, extreme violence and drug use is a regular occurrence on shows such as these.  The PTC’s message to Berkshire Hathaway is this – your advertising dollars reflect your corporate values. We question whether the Board of Directors or the shareholders would be proud of these programs your media dollars support.


“Will Berkshire Hathaway continue paying for the destructive programming that is broadcast into our homes on a nightly basis?  Or, will it be a responsible corporate citizen and dedicate its advertising dollars toward sponsoring family-friendly programming?


“The Parents Television Council would like your response to this question by June 1 so that we may let our 1.2 million members know whether or not Berkshire Hathaway is dedicated to responsible advertising.  I hope that I will be able to report that Berkshire Hathaway is adopting advertising guidelines that reflect pro-family corporate values.”


After the meeting, Father Val Peter was invited to discuss the issue further with GEICO CEO Tony Nicely.


To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, 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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