PTC Pushes CBS Affiliates to Drop Dexter

The Parents Television Council is urging members to contact CBS affiliates to ask that they pre-empt this Sunday's episode of Dexter, the off-Showtime series about a serial killer turned police investigator.

The PTC complained about the show when it began airing on CBS at 10 p.m. Sundays as part of a cross-promotional move to help fill its writers'-strike-impaired schedule.

According to the PTC, CBS affiliates assured it that the show would not air near the family hour. CBS at the time told B&C that the show would be edited to comport with broadcast standards.

The season finale of Dexter is scheduled to air from 9 p.m.-11 p.m., which puts the first half in the so-called family hour at 8 p.m.-9 p.m. in the Central and Mountain time zones, the PTC pointed out.

"By now, over two months since Dexter began a weekly run on CBS," said the nework in an e-mailed response, "viewers have long since decided whether or not it is an appropriate show for their household.  The program will comply with all network television standards and as always, with broadcasts containing mature content, television audiences will be well informed with an appropriate V-Chip rating and parental advisories in advance and during the broadcast.”

Following is a copy of an e-mail B&C received, apparently by mistake and to an outdated address, from a PTC member asking their local affiliate to pull the show. A PTC spokesperson had not returned a call for comment at press time.

May 1, 2008

Broadcasting & Cable Magazine

1627 K St NW, Suite 1000

Washington, D.C. 20005

Dear Broadcasting & Cable Magazine:

When Dexter debuted on CBS, the American people were promised that it would be "scheduled responsibly in the last hour of primetime." These are the very words of the CBS network executives. But their words are no longer true. As you know, CBS is planning to air back-to-back episodes of Dexter this Sunday, with the first episode airing as early as 9 p.m. on the East and West Coast and 8 p.m. in the Central and Mountain time zones!

It is the height of irresponsibility for CBS to schedule this intensely violent, premium-cable series so early in evening when millions of impressionable -- and easily frightened -- children are still awake and watching television. You've had time to see for yourself just how gruesome and disturbing Dexter is and how grossly inappropriate this series is for the broadcast medium. I urge you to do the responsible thing by pulling this Sunday's airings of Dexter.

As you know, your broadcast license is contingent on your acting in the public interest and convenience, and that your failure to take this community's concerns into consideration when making broadcasting decisions will surely be an issue when it's time for the FCC [Federal Communications Commission] to renew your broadcast license.

I sincerely hope you will behave as a responsible member of this community and pull this Sunday's airing of Dexter.

John Eggerton

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.