Ahead of Netflix’s shareholders meeting tomorrow, the Parents Television Council has released a list of five questions Netflix should answer during the meeting.
- How do you justify keeping a show (“13 Reasons Why”) that has inspired an increase in Google searches on ‘how to commit suicide’ on the air?
- What is Netflix prepared to do to eliminate the sexualization of children in “Big Mouth?”
- Why has Netflix not made it easier for parents to completely eliminate entire categories of content, and why are Mature-rated titles (and cover art) still visible on menu screens, even when parental controls are turned-on, and would Netflix consider partnering with a filtering service like VidAngel to make it possible for parents to completely filter out unwanted content?
- Would Netflix be willing to create a “family plan” at a lower monthly subscription rate that excludes Mature-rated and pornographic content, similar to what Sirius/XM Satellite Radio has offered its subscribers?
- Would Netflix agree to participate in a symposium hosted by the Parents Television Council to address the issues raised in the Child Safe Viewing Act, which was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush in 2008?
“For Netflix to remain a popular streaming platform, the company must answer these key questions that are critical to retaining the subscriptions of the millions of families who use the service,” said PTC President Tim Winter.
“We know that Netflix can take bold steps when it wants to. For example, Netflix fired of the star of its most popular series, ‘House of Cards,’ because of the off-screen conduct of the star. That is why we have urged Netflix to make another bold move and remove the teen-targeted show ’13 Reasons Why’ from its platform because of the potential for harm to young viewers who may watch the graphic suicide scene, the sodomization of a teen boy, or that boy’s plan to execute classmates by a school shooting.
“Because of the size and popularity of its platform, Netflix is accountable for all of its programming, not just the most recognized ones. One of the allegations against its former ‘House of Cards’ star Kevin Spacey was predatory sexual conduct toward underaged boys. A recently-debuted animated series like ‘Big Mouth’ is priming young viewers for predation and giving the green-light to would-be-predators to view children as sex objects. ‘Big Mouth’ is supposedly a humorous take on puberty and contains frequent usage of the ‘F-word’ as well as explicit terms to describe genitalia, menstruation and nocturnal emissions – but what it actually does is sexualize children in the most disgusting ways. What can Netflix do to eliminate the sexualization of children in this program?
“Last year, the PTC released a study examining the parental controls available on Netflix and other streaming services and OTT devices. We know that although Netflix is eager to court family audiences as a strategy for stability and growth, little accommodation is made to ensure that once they are there, they have a safe viewing environment with ample viewing options.
“Through our research, we learned that although Netflix does have some age-based parental controls in place, children can easily browse adult profiles — where they might see titles like ‘Zack and Miri Make a Porno,’ or ‘Nymphomaniac.’ Or they might be confronted with an image of a sex toy on the cover art for ‘Grace and Frankie’ just above the Children and Family menu options. And although on some devices there are separate profiles for children, a PIN code is not required for a child viewer to switch profiles. Netflix must make it easier for parents to completely eliminate entire categories of content, not just individual titles. And Netflix must ensure that adult materials are not visible on menu screens, even when parental controls are being used. To this end, Netflix could also partner with a filtering service like VidAngel to make it possible for parents to completely filter out unwanted content.
“We believe that Netflix should also create a ‘family plan’ similar to what Sirius/XM Satellite Radio has offered its subscribers. This would be a clear benefit to families who could then purchase Netflix at a lower monthly rate that excludes Mature-rated and pornographic content.
“We would appreciate Netflix’s participation in a symposium to address the issues raised in the Child Safe Viewing Act and how streaming can better protect children and families from explicit or harmful media content.”