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November 23, 2014

Parents Television Council Losing Relevancy, to Nobody's Dismay

by Danny Gallagher, posted Oct 26th 2010 11:20AM
The PTC logoThere is a strange force of nature that creates a balance in the pop culture universe. Whenever something really fun comes into our view, this force (comprised of various entities) will do everything they can to block it from reaching our eyes.

Movies have the Motion Pictures Association's ratings board. Music has Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Center, which slapped those annoying "Parental Warning" labels on any CD that showed a tablespoon of bad taste. Internet porn has, well, nothing's really been able to stop that, but give them time.

Television, of course, has the Parents Television Council, a crusading group of vigilant moms and dads who watch every last inch of TV and write miles-long letters to the FCC demanding action against the slightest bit of skin or the utterance of any kind of bad word. These days, however, that the PTC is in some dire straights and if someone doesn't so something soon, they could just disappear into the wind (please, don't everybody get up at once ... no seriously, don't).

The New York Times reported that the group is mired in all sorts of financial difficulties, thanks to a lack of internal organization and a drop in staff and membership. This means they haven't been going after shows as much as they used to and that has prevented them from lobbying for new revenue sources.

The situation gets even weirder. Patrick W. Salazar, a former development vice president turned critic of the PTC, left or was fired by the organization (depending on whom you ask) and threatened to go to the press with all the dirty details of America's cleanliness crusaders if they didn't give him some kind of financial severance. That led to a police investigation into extortion claims. L.A.'s city attorney refused to prosecute the case in the ground that it didn't meet the definition of a crime.

The biggest death blow came when an appeals court struck down a ruling that limited the use of "fleeting expletives" on television, a decision that PTC president Timothy Winter called a "slap in the face" to families.

Of course, there is always a chance that they will still be around in some capacity, no matter how big or small, but these setbacks have damaged the council's credibility, not just as a watchdog but as an efficient operation. There was a time when networks and advertisers actually feared the PTC's bullying tactics because they could organize effective advertiser boycotts, submit FCC petitions and gather public support for hefty fines for everything from saying the "no no" word or showing a bit of your "no no's."

Their complaints might have seemed picky, but they had the power to pick a hole right through a network's pocketbook.

Their most famous attack on television naughtiness came in 2004, courtesy of Janet Jackson's infamous "wardrobe malfunction" during the Super Bowl halftime show. The PTC wasted no time in getting the outrage up to 11. In fact, 99 percent of the complaints that the FCC received came from their organization. CBS paid a $3.5 million settlement (though their appeal of a $550,000 penalty imposed by the FCC is still hung up in the appeals process).

The PTC also had a keen eye for field-stripping just about every episode of 'Family Guy' (how's that for irony?), complaining about everything from bad language and violence to free-swinging buttocks. The show scored 28 spots in the PTC's "Worst Show of the Week" column including Seth McFarlane and Alex Borstein's variety show and the show's 'Blue Harvest' special, complete with clips and censored transcripts of the offending shows. It's enough to make me actually want to watch 'Family Guy,' almost.

They even have problems with 'Glee.' That's right, 'Glee,' perhaps the most uplifting and positive show a young child can watch on television today. Their complaints weren't even with the show. They claimed a recent GQ appearance of some of the show's cast members in a provocative school themed photo spread was akin to "pedophilia." Just the sheer lack of logic in this scenario is staggering: how can they complain about something that wasn't even on television? That's like the FDA issuing a fine against Kellogg's for not making their cereal boxes edible.

And as they sink lower in the quicksand and continue grasping at straws, their latest "moral outrage" may not just be their last. It could also be their lowest. They actually began a boycott campaign of the CBS sitcom '#&*$ My Dad Says' because the title contained a censored curse word. Winter actually threatened to enact a huge boycott campaign if the network didn't change the title of the show. Yeah, a guy threatening the almighty Shatner. How's that working out for ya?

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Bob Sherman

Because of a desire to help others, I have helped a number of charitable organizations. In recent years, I have gravitated more and more towards helping the Parents Television Council, because of my belief that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The PTC focus is to go upstream to deal with potentially harmful cultural influences, which seems in the long run to make sense.

Having dealt personally with the PTC, I have a few observations:
--They seem to be level-headed. I have not been able to detect hysteria nor extremism.
--Their work is science-based. They rely heavily on studies by university researchers, the American Psychological Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, etc.
--They seem to be getting results. For example, they take credit for the demise of Swing Town.

Like most whistle blowers, the PTC arouses the ire of the entrenched establishment. But if the establishment seems to be having the upper hand, it's worth remembering, as Eleanor Roosevelt was fond of saying, that it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

October 30 2010 at 6:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ben

Thanks Danny Gallager for this great article that is 100% true about PTC it will be a great day whenever PTC gos down the tube's. I can't stand prudes don't like a show on TV change the channel or turn the TV off which PTC doesn't get. And there antics are like PETA you can't take them serously and I don't like these type of groups like PTC that want to tell me what I can or can't watch TV that is my choice not there choice what I can or can not watch on TV.

October 26 2010 at 8:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Ben's comment
Danny Gallagher

Thank you for the compliment.

October 27 2010 at 12:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anonymoose

About time! Like others said, if they think television is so bad for their kids these uptight dipshits can just sell their TVs and not dictate what I'm allowed and not allowed to watch.

It's as if these assholes have never heard of the internet before!

October 26 2010 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Anonymoose's comment
JustSomeGuy

Are you kidding? If you think television bothers these people, the internet will make their heads explode. Oh, wait, that would be a good thing...

October 26 2010 at 3:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JustSomeGuy

Agreed, good riddance to a group of self-important busybodies who are too incompetent to know how to use the on/off switch on their televisions.

October 26 2010 at 12:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Leroy

Best news I've seen today. I'm fed up with extremists believing everyone should live according to their personal standards.

If they don't like what's on TV or in the movies, they shouldn't watch it and they shouldn't let their kids watch it. However, they have no right to dictate what I or my kids can watch.

October 26 2010 at 11:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
MikeM

Good riddance.

October 26 2010 at 11:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy

In 2000, when the PTC was very much attacking the WWF (now WWE), Vince McMahon countered with a stable of wrestlers called the RTC (Right To Censor). Fun times!

October 26 2010 at 11:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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