For more than two years, the Parents Television Council has relentlessly pushed-back on Netflix for graphically depicting suicide on its popular, teen-targeted original series 13 Reasons Why.
Late last night, news broke that Netflix was removing that scene from the first season of 13 Reasons. There is no doubt that this decision – made just a day and a half before Netflix’s quarterly earnings report, is a direct result of the PTC’s unrelenting pressure — in the form of letters, petitions from PTC members and supporters, statements and press releases, and earned media — on Netflix, its CEO and Board of Directors.
Days before Netflix’s 2019 shareholders meeting, the PTC sent letters to the CEO and to every member of the Netflix Board of Directors, calling on them to “take immediate steps to protect children from a product that your company has placed into the stream of commerce and which is linked to children taking their own lives.”
Netflix‘s Board was silent, so we attended Netflix’s annual shareholder meeting in June to repeat our call for the company to drop 13 Reasons Why. We asked CEO Reed Hastings what the board of directors and management of Netflix were prepared to do about 13 Reasons in light of new National Institutes for Health research that linked 13 Reasons Why to a 30% increase in suicides among children ages 10-17.
Hastings punted, saying:
“We’ve seen this study. We’ve got it. We are talking with the researchers. This is a really critically important topic and we’ve worked hard to ensure that we’ve handled this issue responsibly.”
The PTC previously confronted Hastings at Netflix’s 2018 shareholders meeting with our concerns about 13 Reasons Why, and he dismissed these concerns, saying, “13 Reasons Why has been enormously popular and successful. It’s engaging content. It is controversial, but nobody has to watch it.”
But clearly the message got through, and Netflix is in damage-control mode.
Netflix has now, finally acknowledged the harmful impact of this content on children.
This announcement, and last week’s announcement about Netflix removing smoking from its programming, are two big steps in the right direction for the benefit of children; but Netflix and other streaming media companies (like HBO) can and must go even further to protect children from harmful content.
Thanks to your support, petitions, and unrelenting efforts, this move marks a significant turning point, not just for Netflix, but for all streaming media platforms.
You can read more about the PTC’s efforts here: