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MTV canceled its controversial series Skins on Thursday. Below, a recap of events that may have influenced the network’s decision.
1. Viacom executives ordered producers to tone down its racy teen drama in January. They were worried the series, which starred teens as young as 15, may violate federal pornography laws. The episode in question involved a teen actor filmed from behind while running down the street nude after taking erectile dysfunction drugs.
2. The Parents Television Council called for an investigation into the drama that same month. “In addition to the sexual content on the show involving cast members as young as 15, PTC counted 42 depictions and references to drugs and alcohol in the premiere episode,” the group wrote in a letter to the Department of Justice and U.S. Senate and House Judiciary Committees.
3. Sponsors began to drop out of the show in droves. “Wrigley has decided to suspend any advertising during MTV’s Skins as it was never our intent to endorse content that could offend consumers. Any ads that previously aired during the show were part of a broader advertising plan with the network,” the company told THR in a statement. Taco Bell and GM were among the advertisers to follow suit.
4. The network’s marketing effort (which included a gallery of people slamming the show) were the biggest off-channel media spend in network history. A special site was built separate from MTV.com and several Skins apps were released.
5. MTV went on the offensive shortly after releasing a trailer that showed a teen lesbian kiss: “We also have taken numerous steps to alert viewers to the strong subject matter so that they can choose for themselves whether it is appropriate,” said a rep of the show.
6. The premiere scored 3.3 million viewers, rating 3.4 in MTV’s key 12 to 34 demo. But they dropped in half the second week, with 1.6 million viewers tuning in and a 1.6 rating in the demo.
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