Written by PTC | Published June 9, 2022
What I’ve learned recently about the coziness between the news media and the entertainment industry has been eye-opening, not to mention disheartening.
We recently attempted to run a newspaper ad in the Los Angeles Times on June 2nd. We chose that specific date because we wanted the ad to coincide with Netflix’s annual shareholder meeting, which was being held that same afternoon. Our advertisement called out Netflix for its ongoing pattern of sexualizing – and even sexually exploiting – children for entertainment and profit. We wanted our message to be seen and considered by Netflix investors, and by Hollywood executives.
After we submitted our ad, we were quoted a price for a full page layout in the Business Section, right where investors would be most likely to see it. We accepted the price, paid by credit card, and were shown a layout of the page where our ad would appear.
That’s when things started to get interesting.
Out of the blue we were told that the price we would have to pay was higher than what was originally quoted to us – in fact almost 20% higher. The Times justified their higher price because it was an “advocacy” ad.
We reluctantly agreed to the higher rate, believing the time and placement of our ad was vital to meet our objective of it being seen by Netflix investors immediately prior to the shareholder gathering.
Then the Times said they needed to run the advertisement past their legal team. Their review dragged on until it was too late to publish before the Netflix shareholder meeting, which for us meant the ad’s impact would be lost. But they asked if we would like to run the ad a day or two later.
The PTC team discussed whether the expense was still worth it. We decided that the sexualization of children by Netflix was just too important of an issue not to run the advertisement, even if it meant being published after the shareholder meeting had taken place. We told the Times that we still wanted to move forward. And then we waited. And waited.
Three days later we finally heard back. Their response was head-scratching.
The Times told us to remove from our ad copy the troubling examples of Netflix programming that sexualized children, and then they demanded that we substantiate our claims that Netflix was sexualizing children!
Let me say that part again: They demanded that we remove the evidence from the ad before demanding that we provide evidence for the ad.
You’ve seen the marketing materials Netflix used to promote “Cuties.” Indeed, it was the poster art for the movie that sparked-off the controversy around the film even before it was available to stream. But it was up to us to prove that Netflix was sexualizing children!
The LA Times holds itself out as a bastion for free speech and journalistic integrity, but it sure seems like it adheres to a blatant double-standard when it disagrees with someone else’s free speech!
The most infuriating thing is that if Netflix had gone to the L.A. Times and attempted to run an ad for “Cuties” -- the same ad that everyone was talking about ahead of the movie’s Netflix debut; the one that depicts minor-aged children in sexualized apparel and poses – the Times would have accepted it. Of this, I’m sure. They wouldn’t have been challenged for presenting sexualized depictions of children. They wouldn’t have faced deliberate delays. And it would have cost them less than what the Times asked us to pay. Despite the fact that Netflix is a multi-billion-dollar corporation, and we are only a small non-profit.
The media look after their own.
So why are we so determined to maintain this David-versus-Goliath fight?
Because David won that battle. And so will we.