Netflix Must Stop Marketing Explicit Content to Teens

Written by PTC | Published June 2, 2020

PTC Calls on Netflix to Move ’13 Reasons Why’ Out of Teen Category; Reveals Company Hypocrisy Over Illegal Drug and Alcohol Use

LOS ANGELES (June 2, 2020) – Ahead of Netflix’s annual shareholders meeting on June 4, the Parents Television Council is calling on Netflix to stop marketing explicit and potentially harmful adult content to children, in light of new research finding that Netflix allows depictions of illegal drug and alcohol use, and to move its suicide drama, 13 Reasons Why, out of its “Teen” category before the final season releases on June 5.

“You cannot simultaneously say 13 Reasons Why is intended for young viewers while rating the show as only appropriate for mature audiences. You cannot simultaneously normalize the use of narcotics to children while eschewing depictions of tobacco products to children. And you cannot apply a PG-13 or TV-14 rating to programming which, by the industry’s own guidelines, requires an R or TV-MA for explicit dialogue. We call on Netflix immediately to remove 13 Reasons Why from its ‘Teen’ programming category and to cease marketing other explicit content as appropriate for children,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

13 Reasons Why can be found in Netflix’s “Teen” programming category, despite being rated TV-MA, and has targeted teens with graphic suicide, sexual assault, violent sodomy, underage drinking and other depictions of stomach-turning violence. The showrunner admitted that he made the show for “young viewers.”

PTC research recently revealed how Netflix is marketing adult-rated content to teen audiences: nearly half of all programming designated as “Teen” by Netflix was rated either TV-MA (104 titles, or 40.8%) or R (23 titles, or 9.0%); and every single program that carried a TV-14 rating included the harshest profanities.

And new PTC research of the 11 Netflix “Teen” movies and series – for which VidAngel content filtering data was available – found 169 depictions of illegal drug and alcohol use. Netflix made headlines just under a year ago when it announced that it would not include portrayals of smoking or e-cigarette use in new TV shows rated TV-14 or lower, or movies rated PG-13 and below.

“As Netflix works to increase its dominance in the streaming video market, the company must act with greater corporate responsibility, particularly to the millions of families who are customers. It seems that with every step Netflix takes in a positive direction, there are more decisions the company makes to negate those changes. Case in point: Netflix recently announced improved parental controls – something we advocated for – but our new research proves that those improved controls do not, and cannot, protect children from explicit adult content if that adult content is rated as appropriate for teenaged children,” Winter said.

“We call on the Netflix leadership to do the right thing. And if they won’t, then we call on Netflix shareholders to hold the company to account for such grossly irresponsible behavior,” Winter concluded.

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