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Parents Television Council Blasts MTV's VMAs as Serving Sex to Teens

The conservative watchdog group uses the awards telecast as an opportunity to push for a la carte networks.

Lady Gaga VMA Performance - P 2013
MTV
Lady Gaga at the VMAs

The Parents Television Council is not happy with MTV's annual Video Music Awards.

The conservative watchdog group on Monday blasted the Viacom-owned cable network for the often raunchy telecast that included Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga essentially performing in formal undergarments.

"MTV has once again succeeded in marketing sexually charged messages to young children using former child stars and condom commercials -- while falsely rating this program as appropriate for kids as young as 14. This is unacceptable,” PTC director of public policy Dan Isett said in a statement.

PHOTOS: VMAs 2013: Best and Worst Moments

The Sunday broadcast, which aired live from Brooklyn on the East Coast, featured former Hannah Montana star Cyrus dancing suggestively to her performance of "We Can't Stop," during which she stripped down from a teddy bear-emblazoned leotard to a matching skin-toned bra and underwear. Later, when Robin Thicke joined her onstage halfway through her song, the one-time Disney star repeatedly grabbed her crotch and dry-humped the 36-year-old singer as he sang his hit "Blurred Lines."

"This much is absolutely clear: MTV marketed adults-only material to children while falsely manipulating the content rating to make parents think the content was safe for their children," Isett continued. "MTV continues to sexually exploit young women by promoting acts that incorporate 'twerking' in a nude-colored bikini. How is this image of former child star Miley Cyrus appropriate for 14-year-olds?"

Added PTC advisory board member and former BET executive Paul Porter: "The Miley Cyrus/Robin Thicke performance simply substituted talent with sex. Viacom has a set of corporate broadcast standards that were obviously broken in this case for financial gain. While the performance was shocking to the audience, MTV approved it during the show run prior to the broadcast. Heads should roll at MTV."

VIDEO: MTV VMAs: Miley Cyrus Performs Surreal, Teddy-Bear Filled Version of 'We Can't Stop'

The group also called out Lady Gaga for her opening performance of "Applause," during which she also stripped down through several wardrobe changes to end up in a bikini featuring a seashell bra and G-string.

"How is it appropriate for children to watch Lady Gaga strip down to a bikini in the opening act?" Isett added. "How is it appropriate for 14-year-olds to see a condom commercial and a promo for an R-rated movie during the first commercial break?"

"This content would likely not be given a forum if it were on a broadcast network," he said. "Yet MTV continues to push limits because it's a cable network. But that does not mean MTV's decisions have no consequences, especially for the millions of children who were targeted by MTV.

STORY: Miley Cyrus' VMAs Performance: Hollywood Reacts

Isett used the VMAs as an opportunity to push for a la carte pricing, which he noted would allow parents to better control the content their children consume.

"We urge Congress to pass the Television Consumer Freedom Act, which will give parents and consumers a real solution for future MTV VMA programs -- the ability to choose and pay for cable networks that they want vs. having to pay for networks they don't want. After MTV's display last night, it's time to give control back to consumers," Isett said.

This marks the latest MTV entry to earn harsh words from the PTC, which also has taken issue with the network for its Skins adaptation as well as its unscripted programming including Jersey Shore, Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant, among others.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit