Don Kaplan of the New York Daily News wrote about our criticism of the CW network for giving children online access to a more sexually explicit version of last week’s episode of “Reign.” By adding in scenes that the network’s own standards department cut and then posting the episode on the channel’s web site, without age verification mechanisms, the CW did an end run around parents.
Unfortunately, Mr. Kaplan stated a couple of key details in a misleading way. Kaplan wrote:
In a brief conversation with The News, Isett admitted he had not watched the scenes and that it’s “not my job to watch” such programming.
While it’s true that I personally had not watched the clip prior to our interview last week (I have since seen it), PTC Entertainment Analysts watch and analyze television content full-time. Everything that airs on a broadcast network is viewed by our analysts and ultimately reported to me and others among the PTC’s senior leadership, and I was very clear about how the PTC operates with Mr. Kaplan.
However, that’s not really the important part. Kaplan goes on to set up a silly straw man:
The responsibility to monitor what kids watch on TV and especially on the Internet is a task that should fall to parents, not a group of strangers churning out press releases.
Nobody is arguing differently. In fact, the PTC’s mission is to help parents by giving them the information they need to make the best viewing decisions for their own families. Moreover, PTC members are not “strangers.” We represent the very families trying to navigate the treacherous waters of today’s media environment. To represent otherwise is simply irresponsible.
Ultimately, I was very pleased that Kaplan agreed with the PTC on the most fundamental point:
His biggest beef with the network seemed to be that the material is professionally produced and funded by advertisers.
That’s really the issue, isn’t it? The fact that there is “worse” content on the internet does not justify the CW’s decision to make things worse, nor does not justify the CW’s end run around parents, the TV Ratings system and their own standards and practices department. It doesn’t mean that the advertisers who sponsored this program are not responsible for its content, no matter how it’s distributed.
Parents and families deserve better, and that’s why the PTC exists.