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Press Release

November 4, 2009


PTC Issues Warning: CW Network Affiliates Should Preempt Threesome


LOS ANGELES (November 4, 2009) – The Parents Television Council® is asking CW Network affiliates to preempt the next teen-targeted “Gossip Girl” episode on November 9, which will feature major characters in a sexual threesome according to CW’s own ads for the upcoming episode.  “Gossip Girl” airs at 9 pm ET/PT and 8 pm CT/MT.


“To include a storyline like this on a program that is expressly targeted to impressionable teenagers is reckless and irresponsible.  We are asking each CW Network affiliate to use their common sense and preempt this episode,” said PTC President Tim Winter, who wrote a letter to CW Network President Dawn Ostroff and to each affiliate.


“CW has been defending graphic content on ‘Gossip Girl’ by asserting that they don’t target teenagers.  Such a claim doesn’t even pass the ‘laugh test.’  The network’s own promotions talk about the program as a ‘parent’s worst nightmare.’  How many 30-year olds care what their parents think?  Zero.  Only a teenager would be responsive to a parental ‘forbidden fruit’ marketing ploy like that, and CW knows it.”


In the letter Mr. Winter wrote, “‘Gossip Girl’ routinely depicts teenage characters engaging in promiscuous and consequence-free sexual behavior, and that’s bad enough.  But will you now be complicit in establishing a precedent and expectation that teenagers should engage in behaviors heretofore associated primarily with adult films?  Behaviors not only increase health risks, but are emotionally and psychologically damaging to participants as well.  I certainly hope not, and I’m sure members of your community and parents of children who watch your network expect more of you.


“May I also remind you that it is the affiliate, not the CW network, that will bear the financial burden of an FCC fine should any of the content of the November 9th episode be found to violate broadcast decency laws.


“Finally, you must ask yourself, how does airing this program serve your obligation to serve the public interest?


“In a declaratory ruling last year, the FCC affirmed affiliates' ability to pre-empt any network programming that is ‘unsatisfactory or unsuitable or contrary to the public interest.’  The record on this is clear: contracts between networks and their affiliates may not legally prevent preemption of programming that does not meet local community standards.  As a station manager you not only have a right, but an obligation to preempt programs like ‘Gossip Girl’ that fail to meet that standard. 


“Please be advised that the PTC will monitor this episode very closely.  Our members will not hesitate to contact local and national advertisers; and if this program violates broadcast decency law, rest assured that our members will contact the Federal Communications Commission.”


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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