PTC to Target Cable Carriers

MTV/Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

Group to escalate fight against MTV’s ‘Skins’

Parents Television Council president Tim Winter can thank a 15-hour erection for reviving the credibility of his watchdog group. The PTC had seemed increasingly out of touch when complaining about Glee photo shoots and threesomes on the CW, and it had suffered recent setbacks including a rebuke from the American Institute of Philanthropy over its sloppy fundraising, a federal court loss over FCC fines for “fleeting expletives” on television, and a budget shortfall that caused its staff to shrink from 32 to 20. But the controversy over MTV’s Skins, which depicted 17-year-old actor Jesse Carere running nude down a street after taking a Viagra-like drug, put the PTC in the center of a national debate over child porn as sponsors fled and ratings tanked.

“It’s definitely a win for them,” says Stephen Pruitt, University of Missouri/Kansas City finance professor and an expert on boycotts. “The headwind’s now behind them.” The PTC campaign could cost MTV as much as $20 million, according to some estimates. Winter, 51, calls Skins “the perfect storm for us.” But he says the battle isn’t over. Next up is an effort to use Skins to push for regulations allowing cable subscribers to opt out of channels they find offensive. “I can pick up the phone and unsubscribe to HBO — why can’t I pick up the phone and unsubscribe to MTV?” he asks. “It’s a bundling racket; we think it’s illegal.”