Despite Ad Boycott and Ratings Slide, MTV Exec Still Stands by 'Skins'

1:57 PM PST 02/01/2011 by Marisa Guthrie
Courtesy of MTV Networks

Though Monday's show was down slightly from last week, net programming chief David Janollari tells THR: "We’re in it for the long run."

MTV’s Skins lost its ninth advertiser today. But David Janollari, the network’s head of programming, countered that MTV has “not lost any advertising dollars” and maintained that the controversy has actually been good for the show.

“I think it’s always good when people are talking about you and people are certainly talking about [Skins],” Janollari told the Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday. 
 
Skins – the centerpiece of a new scripted initiative at MTV – has attracted the ire of watchdog groups for numerous portrayals of teen sex, drinking and drug use. The Parents Television Council has been relentless in targeting the show’s advertisers, which continue to defect with Proactiv the latest marketer to come out against Skins
 
“Certainly Skins is a bolder step in the scripted direction for us,” said Janollari. “You’re always going to have haters. And MTV is no stranger to that kind of reaction, most recently with Jersey Shore and going all the way back to Jackass.”
 
The controversy has also earned the show copious headlines and a spoof on Saturday Night Live. And Janollari clearly likes some of the attention.
 
“It’s always flattering when you’re spoofed by SNL two weeks into your series run,” he said. “That’s great and that really helps.”
 
The third episode of Skins on Monday night was watched by 1.5 million viewers, down slightly from last week’s 1.6 million, according to Nielsen. Janollari said he’s pleased with the ratings so far, although the premiere episode was watched by more than three million viewers thanks to an enormous 7 million-plus lead-in from a new episode of Jersey Shore.
 
“We’re basically trending relatively steady as the audience gets more invested in the characters,” he said, adding that the network is committed to airing all 10 episodes of Skins that have been ordered.
 
Janollari would not directly address the assertion that Skins may have run afoul of federal child pornography statutes by having a 17-year-old actor film a nude scene. But he said that the issues with Skins would not affect the network’s scripted initiative.
 
“The scripted presence on our network is a very important part of our plan,” he said. “And we’re in it for the long run.”
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