PTC and Fairplay Urge FTC Investigation into Hollywood’s Marketing of Adult Entertainment to Children

Written by PTC | Published December 1, 2022

LOS ANGELES (December 1, 2022) – The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) is calling on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to open an investigation into the marketing of adult entertainment to children given the PTC’s new research has revealed Hollywood is marketing teen-targeted TV shows with explicit adult content to young teens through social media sites popular with 13-17-year-olds.

In a letter to FTC Chair Lina Khan, PTC Vice President Melissa Henson, and Fairplay representatives Jean Rogers, Lisa Honold, and Joann Bogard, urged the FTC to act:

As far as we are aware, it has been more than a decade since the FTC followed-up on its review of the marketing of adult entertainment to children, but I am writing you today to urge your agency to renew its efforts to hold the entertainment industry accountable for how it markets content to children.

Though much has changed in the intervening 22 years since the FTC first delved into this issue, this much has not changed: Hollywood is still trying to do an end-run around parents, deliberately targeting children and teens in the marketing of their adult-rated entertainment products on the platforms that teens use the most.

The Parents Television and Media Council just concluded an investigation into the marketing of adult- rated entertainment products to children ages 13-17 on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

Hollywood is doing an end-run around parents by marketing sexually explicit TV-MA-rated content directly to children and teens on social media sites popular with 13-17-year-olds. Programs like Euphoria, Big Mouth, Sex Education, PEN15, and other mature-rated titles that feature youth characters are filled with dark, depraved, and sexually exploitive content. The TV-MA rating should, in theory, serve as a gatekeeper for children seeking to learn more about the program. But social media gives children great access into these shows, whether their families subscribe to a particular streaming platform. And Hollywood is using that back door to do just that.

Marketing mature-rated content to children and teens sends a confusing message to parents and increases the likelihood that kids will be exposed to media content that the ratings indicate is inappropriate for them.

For years Hollywood has been promising responsible self-regulation, and for years they have dramatically and repeatedly violated the public’s trust.

We cannot simply shrug-off Hollywood's broken promises and continued efforts to target the most impressionable and vulnerable members of society in their marketing of sexually graphic, exploitative and age-inappropriate entertainment products. The overwhelming consensus of the medical community is that children are harmed by these media messages. And even the most vigilant of parents is unable to anticipate the frequency with which children are being bombarded with content designed to pique their interest in mature-rated entertainment products.

It is high time for the producers and distributors of such harmful entertainment products to be held accountable for their irresponsible marketing practices. On behalf every family in America, I ask that the Commission initiate an immediate review of this matter.

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