PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

October 26, 2010 -

The Parents Television Council takes some heat in a recent New York Times article entitled "TV Watchdog Group Is on the Defensive" (thanks Shoutbox user BearDogg-X). Of course, anyone that  follows this site knows that the PTC has many more targets than television - books, music, movies, video games - whatever can drive outrage - and in turn - donations to the group.

There is a lot of interesting information in this article on the decline of the group in recent years, but the juiciest stuff is about the group's membership numbers and an allegation about those direct mail donations and petitions. First the membership stuff - from former employee turned critic :

"Mr. Salazar was also troubled by membership claims. For instance, council leaders put membership at 'more than 1.3 million.' But that number counts people who have signed a petition or donated since the group’s founding, according to the council. In reality, 12,000 people at most respond to annual fund-raising appeals, Mr. Salazar said."

Then there is the matter of the money:

During this period, the council encountered difficulties with its direct-mail fund-raising system. Like many nonprofit groups, the council raises money by mail: sign and return this petition — preferably with a donation — and we will send it to the F.C.C. But internal documents show that, at least for a period of some months, the council was opening tens of thousands of envelopes, looking for money, and skipping the rest of the steps.

In a March 2009 e-mail to Mr. Winter, Patrick W. Salazar, who was the council’s vice president for development but is now one of its critics and has been accused by the group of trying to extort money from it, wrote, “Almost 195,000 pieces of donor/member mail was never sent to the intended recipient.” He added, “Most of these were time-sensitive docs whose value is now shot.” That September, Mr. Salazar sent another concerned note to Mr. Winter about the fulfillment of direct-mail petitions.

"Dude, I told you I was working on fulfillment," Mr. Winter responded. "It is under control."

Mr. Winter said that he had done his best to sort through the backlog, but he conceded that ultimately, the council decided that a stack of petitions was too old to be of any value. The council says it is now caught up.

Read the rest of this fine article at the New York Times.

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Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

The PTC... trolling thier memes befor the internet was invented!


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Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

The PTC was founded in 1995.

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

Good news, indeed.

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Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

Good riddance.

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

Well, considering that that the NIMF has already folded due to apathy and lack of funds, its of little suprise the PTC is also in trouble.  Of course, there are still plenty of Christian Conservatives and Nanny State Liberals to fill any void left should the PTC go out of business. 

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

Afraid so.

Of course, network standards have become more lax over the years in a lot of ways, cable and satellite have become standard, and Internet TV is on the rise; PTC and groups like it don't have the kind of power they used to.  As the article says, "Advertisers still fear the Parents Television Council, but not as much as they used to."

It's been interesting to see how community standards have shifted over the years -- on the one hand, syndicated South Park reruns air on network TV (albeit after 10 PM and sometimes with additional cuts beyond their Comedy Central versions), but on the other, a show like All in the Family would never air on prime time network TV today.

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

Yes.  About the only thing that can be agreed upon by everybody it seems is that depictions of Mohammed are clearly off-limits.

(Although personally I think that whole thing was an elaborate publicity stunt by Trey Parker and Matt Stone that Comedy Central were secretly complicit in.  I don't think they ever really intended to show Mohammed or ever intended for us to hear Kyle's speech that they bleeped out entirely.  I think it was all part of the joke.  Also the alleged Muslim website that reportedly issued all those threats conveniently shut down and disappeared shortly after the whole incident.  If you know anything about Parker, he's kind of a douche and such attention-whoring is not unusual for him.  If they were that pissed-off with Comedy Central, they would have torn-up their contract and left there months ago.)

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

Do they still show Mohammed in the opening titles?  He was in there for years (with the rest of the Super Best Friends) and nobody seemd to notice.

"Also the alleged Muslim website that reportedly issued all those threats conveniently shut down and disappeared shortly after the whole incident."

True, but the person who made the threats was later arrested for funding terrorists.  That part of the story isn't made up even if the reaction was a publicity stunt.

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

Yeah I think a lot of this can be attributed to changes in community standards and less moral panic over media in the last decade or so.  I think people can see that changes in the media haven't ruined society.

That said, I don't think we'll be entire free of these kinds of folk, even if the PTC folds (as I sincerely hope they will).  There are still plenty of moralizers on both wings of the political spectrum, unfortunately well entrenched in academia as well.

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

The revelation that their actual membership is far less than what they claim is not news to me.  Howard Stern once said a few years ago that their numbers have always been artificially inflated, saying something to the effect of "It's just a few dudes in the basement with a mimeograph machine."

Glad to see that many entertainment companies are finally waking up to this fact and don't fear them like they once did.  Case in point, I could have sworn that I heard the word "clusterfuck" a few weeks ago on an episode of The Cleveland Show.  I expected there to be a lot of outrage over that, but I never heard a peep from anyone.  Likewise when I tuned-in to TCM to catch a late night airing of the 1982 Horror film The Boogens, I clearly heard the words "fuck" and "shit" on the air.  So clearly standards are relaxing.

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

The Cleveland "clusterfuck" line actually had a very short bleep in the middle (a la South Park), at least in the States.

TCM is cable, and cable TV content isn't regulated by the FCC -- since the cable stations are generally owned by the same media companies as the networks, they usually adhere to broadcast standards anyway just to hedge their bets, but it's not uncommon to see uncut movies run late at night on cable.  (I think "shit" is even all right on network TV after 10 PM.)

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

Yeah, 10pm to 6am is considered "safe harbor" and the broadcast networks could air anything they wanted as long as it wasn't judged to be obscene if they wanted to(and it doesn't appear like the networks would).

Though keep in mind that Fox v. FCC(a case mentioned in the NY Times article linked in this story) is likely to go before SCOTUS, and SCOTUS could reverse the Pacifica case that gave the FCC its powers, though that possibility is unlikely, I think.

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Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

I doubt we'll see a full-on reversal, but I wouldn't be surprised if they scaled back the FCC's powers a bit.

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

If they did, the local network affiliate in my area must have been asleep at the switch, because I clearly heard it.  I even went back on the DVR to hear it again to make sure my ears weren't decieving me.  I did not hear even the tiniest bleep in there.

As for TCM, it's basic cable.  And while technically they may not have anything to fear from the FCC, because they're basic channels and not premium (like, say HBO or Showtime), they're pretty much able to be seen by anybody, so they still kind of censor themselves.  But TCM prides themselves on showing movies as-is with no edits, so allowing profanity to be heard would fit into that I think.  Also what with FX shows like Sons of Anarchy pushing the envelope as well (I've heard characters throw around words like "pussy" and "shit" rather casually on that show), it seems as if they're starting to achieve parity with the premium channels.

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

Another group of smarmy moralizers who can't keep their own house in order.  This is my surprised face.

I'd like to think this will serve as a wakeup call to their donors and hurt their bottom line even more, but I fear some other group will just pick up the slack.

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

Another group of smarmy monetizers who can't keep their own house in order.

There, fixed it for you ^_^. Outrage and morality is their product, but not their objective.

Re: PTC On The Defensive, in Decline

I'll be so happy when the PTC and its ilk simply fade in oblivion as they are akin to a monumental blight on society at large.

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