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PTC Asking Justice To Investigate Netflix Programming

A promo image for Netflix's 'Cuties'
Netflix's 'Cuties' is among the programs the Parents Television and Media Council says damages Netflix's brand. (Image credit: Netflix)

The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) says it plans to ask Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate whether Netflix programming has violated any federal laws regarding "child sex, indecency and human trafficking."

Netflix has seen a recent defection of subs and PTC suggests the reasons are not the usual suspects — "competition from other streaming services, the lifting of COVID stay-at-home orders, a bad economy." Driving family audiences away, PTC says, is that Netflix is marketing content to children that exploits children.

PTC says exhibits A, B, and C are Cuties, Big Mouth and Sex Education, all shows it says damage the brand through content that sexualizes children and exploits child actors for the sake of entertainment.

PTC has complained about the shows before but it is tying its latest volley to the June 2 annual shareholders meeting. It has drafted an open letter to those shareholders telling them to use their power to prevent Netflix from alienating family audiences, saying that despite PTC's protestations, Netflix has "doubled-down on offensive content that will only serve to further drive family audiences away."

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It won't be the first complaint to Justice about Netflix original content.

Saying that the Sundance award-winning Cuties met the definition of child pornography, almost three dozen Republican members of Congress led by Rep. Jim Banks (Indiana) called on then Attorney General Bill Barr back in 2020 to prosecute Netflix for distributing the show. Justice did not do so.

At the time, Netflix defended Cuties as "an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”

At the time, PTC called for hearings on the media's sexualization of children, but that didn't happen either. ■

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.