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By airing Skins, MTV is hurting Viacom’s corporate brand and costing the company money, and it’s time for shareholders to demand that executives do their fiduciary duty and yank the show off the air.
So says the Parents Television Council, which has been at the forefront of attacking Skins, a show it maintains is sexually raunchy and aimed at children. They also complain that it stars actors under age 18 in situations that could compare to child pornography.
The PTC emailed 200,000 of its 1.3 million members Wednesday with the message that shareholders need to hold Viacom accountable for Skins, especially in light of falling ratings and declining support from advertisers.
The organization has also called on Viacom and MTV repeatedly to cancel the show, but Wednesday’s email marks a shift in strategy by encouraging shareholders to join the fight. MTV has said it plans to air at least 10 episodes of Skins, and it recently aired the seventh.
The program, says the email, “has become radioactive to the advertising community,” and the audience has shrunk from 3.3 million to less than 1 million per episode. The note also cites the New York Post estimating that MTV is losing $2 million per episode of Skins that it airs.
“The only viewers that have stuck around are the 12-17-year-olds MTV tried to claim were not the target audience,” says the email.
“Viacom has one prime directive as a publicly traded company: to return a profit to its shareholders,” reads the email. “In allowing one of its properties, MTV, to continue to air a program that is losing the company money, Viacom is in breach of its fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders.”
The email includes a link for forwarding the message to Viacom.
“MTV has an agenda to push, and they are going to push it at all costs,” says the email. “They are determined to rewrite the rule book for television standards, forever lowering the threshold for what can and should be permitted on advertiser-supported basic cable.”
Dan Isett, the PTC’s director of public policy, says that in the most recent episode of Skins there were 31 ads, 19 of which were for movies and TV shows.
“It’s really the entertainment industry that has been keeping this afloat with presumably paid advertising,” Isett said. While many advertisers have distanced themselves from the show, others have jumped on board. Recently, for example, Sony, FilmDistrict and Stage 6 Films began advertising their upcoming release Insidious on Skins.
Viacom did not respond to a request for comment.
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