Waukesha, Wis. (May 28, 2009) – Today at the Target Corporation annual shareholders meeting in Waukesha, Wis., the Parents Television Council™ called the company out for selling M-rated video games and unrated DVDs to minors. During a secret shopper campaign, PTC found that underage children could purchase M-rated video games from Target 41% of the time. PTC called on the company to take necessary steps to address the problem which is of great concern to parents. Bob Sherman, director of PTC’s Chicago grassroots chapter, addressed Target executives and shareholders at the meeting today. The following are excerpts from his remarks:
“The PTC and its 1.3 million members are increasingly concerned about the media marketplace, and the easy access children now have to adult entertainment products at the retail level, particularly unrated DVDs and M-rated video games. Although the MPAA and the ESRB apply age-based ratings to movies and video games in an effort to limit children’s exposure to mature content both in films and video games, many retailers are not taking the additional, necessary step of prohibiting the sale of those adult-rated entertainment products to minors.
“Last year the PTC conducted a secret shopper campaign to see what measures, if any, various national retail chains put in place to restrict the sale of mature-rated video games to minors. On average our volunteers, all between the ages of 11 and 16, were able to purchase video games rated ‘M’ by the ESRB for mature content 36% of the time. Target stores fared worse than the average – underage children were able to purchase M-rated video games at Target stores a stunning 41% of the time. Parents have the right to expect that age restrictions for adult entertainment products will be enforced at the retail level.
“Retail DVDs have also become a major concern for parents, as directors are increasingly releasing unrated versions of their PG-13 and R-rated films or adult-targeted television programs containing content that is often edgier, raunchier, and more explicit than what actually appeared in the original release. These unrated DVDs are stocked on your store shelves, where children have ready access to them, and, as with video games, Target is not doing enough to keep these DVDs out of the hands of children. Children are able to purchase this material as easily as candy. Examples of this include the Showtime series Dexter, a gruesomely violent series about a vigilante serial killer, and Family Guy which makes jokes about bestiality, pedophilia, necrophilia, and every other conceivable perversion.
“Target represents families to so many consumers. Your advertising and community good works reflect how Target is embedded in our lives. The Parents Television Council is eager and ready to work with you to address this industry-wide dilemma.”