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Press Release

PTC to AT&T CEO: Your Company Has Reversed ‘No Porn on HBO’ Decision By Targeting Kids with Porn on HBO

Release Date: 7/24/2019

LOS ANGELES (July 24, 2019) – The Parents Television Council has personally called on AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson to remove HBO's Euphoria from its platform in a new letter from PTC President Tim Winter.


Nearly a year ago, the PTC praised AT&T for its decision to remove porn from HBO, but now, HBO is targeting children with pornographic content on Euphoria - an extreme turnaround that is of great concern to parents.


The full text of the PTC’s July 18, 2019, letter to Mr. Stephenson is as follows:


“Not quite a year ago, I publicly praised you and HBO for removing pornographic content from the popular premium cable service. Now I find myself in quite the opposite position because HBO has not only brought back pornographic content, they are marketing it directly to kids.


“Recently HBO debuted a teen-targeted drama series called Euphoria that features – indeed, glorifies – illicit drug use, graphic violence, extreme (and even illegal) sexual behavior, and full-frontal teen nudity.


“Obviously you are not directly involved in the day-to-day programming decisions at HBO; but as the Chairman and CEO of HBO’s parent company, the buck stops with you. Either Euphoria reflects the corporate values and beliefs of AT&T, or it does not reflect those corporate values and beliefs. It is either yes or no; there is no middle ground here.


“On behalf of the 1.4 million Americans who have joined the Parents Television Council’s vision for a safe and sound entertainment media landscape for children and families, I call on you to put an immediate end to Euphoria. You could do so with the stroke of a pen.


“Everyone involved in this series – from HBO’s programming president, to the writer and producer of Euphoria, to the director – has been engaged in hypocritical, self-serving double-speak when talking about this series:


• HBO programming president Casey Bloys said that the “point” of the show “is to expose an adult audience to the challenges of growing up in 2019.” Augustine Frizzell, director of the first episode, said the “point” of the show is to “jolt viewers and in turn start conversations between parents and teens about some of the drama’s more sensitive subjects.” Then creator Sam Levinson said, “"It's about addiction and it's about friendship and it's about the people who you meet who can change your life, and it's about holding onto these small moments of joy when they come your way because everything feels fleeting when you're younger.”

• Levinson also crowed, “There are going to be parents who are going to be totally f***ing freaked out.”

• Levinson claimed “[Euphoria’s] not sensational to be sensational,” but then revealed that one locker-room scene that featured a teenaged character surrounded by 30 naked male classmates originally included “like, 80 more penises.” Star Zendaya has said, “We can get away with a lot of s*** with comedy.”


“Attached to this letter you will find a sampling of the explicit content found on Euphoria. As uncomfortable and distasteful as it might be, I urge you to read it and then ask yourself if you are proud to have AT&T associated with such content; and to ask yourself if this is what AT&T stands for.


“Mr. Stephenson, we believe in the First Amendment. We believe in freedom of speech. Of course we acknowledge that the series’ creators have every right to produce this program, but is it the right thing to do?


“There has been an explosion in mature-rated adult content being marketed directly to teens and pre-teens in recent years, especially on streaming platforms like HBO Now and HBO Go – where the content can be viewed outside of the purview of parents; and with the ability to sign up for a free-trial of HBO Now, and with HBO promoting the fact that you can watch the first episode of Euphoria for free on HBO.com, teens can binge-watch the series without their parents being any the wiser. HBO also appears to be actively engaging with young audiences about this series on their social media platforms.


“And we know that teens are not only watching, they are absorbing the dangerous messages contained in the shows they stream. A recent National Institutes of Health study, for example, has linked the Netflix original series 13 Reasons Why to a 30% spike in teen suicides.


“Not to be outdone, HBO Chairman Richard Plepler – who is in your employ -- derisively sneered that Euphoria would make 13 Reasons Why 'look like an after-school special.’ Is your employee speaking for you and for your shareholders when he slobbers about shredding a content boundary that is associated with children literally killing themselves?


“Any effort to suggest this teen-targeted content doesn’t have an impact is laughable. And by using a prominent former Disney star like Zendaya, and by presenting the sexual exploitation, substance abuse, and other dysfunctional behaviors as normative, HBO is not only doing nothing to alleviate these social ills among children, they are only encouraging more of it.


“As the former National President of the Boy Scouts, I’m sure that you share a deep-down concern about the devastating impact programs like Euphoria can have on our youth. And I wonder if you still keep your Good Turn coin in your pocket every day. If so, I respectfully propose this daily Good Turn.


“AT&T’s website has a statement of its Corporate Values, including ‘Do the right thing, no compromise.’


“Mr. Stephenson, I hope you will hold to this and do the right thing. Euphoria is a dangerous program, targeted to vulnerable and impressionable youths, and it should be pulled immediately from your platforms. Thank you."


Sincerely,

Timothy F. Winter

President


cc:

Larry Solomon, Chief Communications Officer

Cynthia B. Taylor, Board of Directors


Note: The full letter, along with descriptions of HBO’s Euphoria, can be found here:http://w2.parentstv.org/blog/?p=8530.

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.