• TLC is All About Sex

    by  • January 16, 2015 • Cable Choice, Sex, Sexualization • 5 Comments

    Originally centered on educational programming, the cable network TLC has become a channel increasingly focused on sex.

    When it launched in 1980, TLC was called The Learning Channel, and offered fascinating and educational programming for the whole family. conveying information to viewers and rarely if ever contained anything even mildly offensive or disturbing. The casual channel-flipper could find his attention captured by a fascinating bit of information, and profitably spend an hour or even an entire afternoon learning about subjects as disparate as domesticated animals, steam engines or the Kalahari desert. Such programming was also perfect for children, as it could make learning painless and enjoyable.

    But today, the former Learning Channel advertises itself exclusively with the saccharine acronym “TLC” – as if being a channel devoted to learning was somehow something of which to be ashamed.  Moreover, the channel has become increasingly obsessed with graphic sexual content. The titles of TLC’s programming lineup alone tell the story: Sister Wives (about “polygamy and plural marriage”); Buying Naked (in which “clothing-optional clients shop the real-estate market in nudist communities”); the “progressive polygamists” of My Five Wives; Virgin Diaries (which portrays virginity as some sort of freakish psychological problem);  the oddball fetishes of Strange Sex; and the self-explanatory Sex Sent Me to the ER.

    Even the network’s seemingly innocuous programming is advertised with sex on TLC’s website.  My Strange Addiction features stories about “The Advantage to Having a Large Bra Size” and “38KKK Bust Size,” while Say Yes to the Dress, about women shopping for wedding dresses, is promoted with clips titled “Boobarella” and “Triple D  Letdown.” TLC also advertises the entire network with a clip titled “Sex Stories That Will Make You Blush.”


    And now, the network is offering a program titled All About Sex. On the talk show, “comedian” Margaret Cho will be joined by a panel of women who will feature “open conversations about sex,” as well as discussing the week’s “craziest sex-related news.”

    It’s no surprise that many adult viewers are interested in sexual content – as witness the existence and success of networks like The Playboy Channel, as well as the many pay-per-view channels featuring even more explicit content. The fact that these networks are available only to those who specifically request, and are willing to pay for, such content makes their existence largely unobjectionable; those interested can easily see them, while those offended by them do not have the channels forced on them, nor are they required to subsidize content to which they object.

    But TLC is a different story. As a network on the basic tier, every cable and satellite subscriber in America is forced to pay for TLC’s tawdry content. And because it’s on the basic tier, TLC’s sex-slathered programming is easily accessible to children and teens.

    Perhaps it is appropriate that the network now goes by the name “TLC”…for that name can easily stand for what it has become: The Lechery Channel.



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    5 Responses to TLC is All About Sex

    1. Dana
      January 16, 2015 at 4:13 pm

      What kills me about all this is, well, several things:

      1. “It’s what makes money.”
      2. “SEX gets HIGH RATINGS.”
      3. “SEX SELLS.”
      4. “If you don’t like it, DON’T WATCH IT!”
      5. “Just CHANGE THE CHANNEL.”
      6. “Be a parent and turn the TV off!”
      7. “TLC will never have any quality or variety again because SEX is what makes money and ratings. Sorry those are the #FACTS!”

      I see comments like these on TLC’s Facebook page all the time, and these people think they know everything, and they drive me nuts!

      • Dana
        January 16, 2015 at 4:28 pm

        Posts like these I just hate, because they want us to think we can’t have nice things!:

        “That’s why have more than 1 channel watch something else because if there making money & the ratings are great it doesn’t matter who doesn’t like it. #FACTS”

        “TLC is adult based channel. So keep distance ur childreen from its”

      • Wendy
        March 2, 2015 at 7:45 pm

        @Dana – One reason you see those sorts of dismissive, combative comments so often is that they often aren’t organic. They aren’t people who are just defending the indefensible for the fun of it, they are most often paid commenters. They are paid sometimes by the Marketing Division of shows or the network sometimes by “other interests” to direct or disrupt the narrative in their favor.

        For instance, I started noticing that whenever an anti-p** topic was discussed on women’s media sites, for a while real women would show up and talk in the comments section, but shortly there will be an absolute flood of “housewives” blathering about how much they “love p***!!!!” and anyone who doesn’t is a prude and anti-freedom.

        This frustrated me at first because these pro-p*** “housewives” always seemed disingenuous to me and they would derail real conversations and make them all about p*** (often dropping the name of sleazy websites in the process). Something about these extremely sexually liberated “housewives” seemed fake. After a while I started to realize that the same thing happened in the comments section of ANY “news” article related to objections about p***.

        The point is, those pro-p*** “housewives” are not real. They are paid by the p*** companies to “disrupt” any discussions that might paint their “product” in a bad light. Ergo, it makes since to plant fake commenters who claim to be housewives that are totally ok with p***. They want to give the impression that only the most repressed person would be against their product (since they know it contributes to trafficking and violence among other social ills). They also pay commenters to visit forums frequented by men, pick up a female avatar and start sexually explicit threads in hopes of driving consumers to their “product”. All of this is done with NO disclosure and many companies have had planted commenters on various forums for YEARS so it often appears organic when it is anything but.

        They are also heavily invested in hiring paid commenters and forum posters to make it seem like there are LESS conscientious objectors than there are. So next time you see a piling on of people ridiculing someone who is trying to make a difference, consider whether those people are real people or just a fake PR brigade hired to make their position seem more valid and supported. More and more people are catching onto these guerrilla marketing tactics and realizing that since no one is regulating this, this type of fake paid commenting and brigading is rampant on the web.

      • thelma
        March 6, 2016 at 7:15 pm

        I don’t like it either it’s ugh ewwwww okk

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