Written by PTC | Published June 5, 2019
LOS ANGELES (June 5, 2019) – In advance of Netflix’s shareholders meeting on Thursday, the Parents Television Council says that the Netflix Board of Directors must be held to account for keeping the teen-targeted graphic suicide drama, “13 Reasons Why,” on the Netflix platform when that show has been linked through new research to a 30% increase in suicides among children ages 10-17. The PTC is also calling for Netflix to add wording in all of its requisite SEC filings to disclose any material risks and uncertainties associated with knowingly and intentionally distributing a product that has been linked to an increase in teen suicide.
The PTC recently wrote a letter to CEO Reed Hastings and to each member of the Netflix Board of Directors requesting that the company pull “13 Reasons Why” from the platform until it can be proven not to be harmful to children.
“A year ago, there was national concern that ‘13 Reasons Why’ might be harming children, given the research that documented the program’s link to increased internet searches about committing suicide. Mr. Hastings arrogantly dismissed the matter in front of his shareholders at the 2018 annual meeting. This year our fears were confirmed when the National Institutes of Health linked the Netflix program to a spike in teen suicide. Management knows it, and now the Board of Directors of Netflix knows it. We believe it to be gross recklessness that both corporate management and corporate Board would allow this program to remain on the platform unless and until it can be proven to be safe for viewers, especially children,” said PTC President Tim Winter.
“Publicly-traded corporations must appropriately disclose material risks and uncertainties in their requisite SEC filings. Given the roughly $2 billion that Netflix needs this calendar year from the corporate debt markets, we believe the company must add verbiage that adequately discloses the risks and uncertainties that exist when a product it puts into the stream of commerce might be linked to an increase in teen suicide.
“We have attempted in good faith to work directly with Netflix management to address our concerns about the teen-targeted program, but they have refused to engage in any dialogue whatsoever. We recently wrote to every member of the Netflix Board of Directors with our concerns given the new research, and now it is the responsibility of Richard Barton, Rodolphe Belmer, Mathias Döpfner, Tim Haley, Jay Hoag, Leslie Kilgore, Ann Mather, Ambassador Susan Rice, Brad Smith, and Anne Sweeney, to answer. If the Board doesn’t address this matter, we’ll move forward even more aggressively to hold them publicly to account.
“Netflix has a duty to its shareholders and to its subscribers – and to the public – to ensure that its programming does not cause harm. Wall Street wants to hear what Netflix has to say about the fierce competition it is about to face with the debut of Disney+ later this year; and how it will navigate a path to positive cash flow. But corporate management and the Board must also answer for the NIH research data, and it must disclose risks and uncertainties in its SEC filings.
“If Netflix wants to retain the loyalty of millions of families who use its service, it must reconsider keeping ’13 Reasons Why’ on its platform and cease to market harmful adult programming to children. The Netflix Board must do the right thing.”