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Press Release

PTC to Netflix Board of Directors: You Are Now Accountable for Keeping Teen-Targeted Suicide Drama on Platform

Release Date: 6/5/2019

LOS ANGELES (June 5, 2018) – In advance of Netflix’s shareholders meeting on Thursday, the Parents Television Councilsays 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.”

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 1.4 million members, 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.

Visit the new PTC Watchdog Blog at www.parentstv.org/blog.

Follow the PTC on Twitter: @ThePTC.
 
Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ptcusa.

To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, please contact Kelly Oliver at (703) 307-9404 or email at kelly@kellyoliverpr.com.