PTC Pushes Stations To Preempt 'Gossip Girl'

The Parents Television Council has sent letters to CW affiliates--about 120 in all--asking them to preempt the Nov. 9 episode of Gossip Girl.

The group cites reports in Entertainment Weekly and elsewhere that the Nov. 9 issue will include a sexual tryst among three main characters.

A PTC spokesperson said calling for the preemption was an unusual move for the organization, saying the last time it did so was in May 2008 for the season finale of Dexter.

The group is asking all its members (it claims 1.3 million) to write stations as well. "I appeal to your highest sense of decency, respect and common sense in urging you to preempt this episode," writes PTC President Tim Winter in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by B&C.

Winter put the sting, or at least the threat of one, in the tail of the letter.

"Please be advised that the PTC will monitor this episode very closely," he says.

"Our members will not hesitate to contact local and national advertisers; and if this program violates broadcast decency law, rest assured that our members will contact the Federal Communications Commission."

A CW spokesperson had no comment. CW does not generally comment on PTC complaints, but it did use a quote from the group criticizing the show in its marketing campaign for Gossip Girl two seasons ago. According to Nielsen, the median age of show's viewers is 27 (The CW overall is 33). The show is rated TV 14 (parents strongly cautioned).

PTC gained national attention when it generated hundreds of thousands of complaints about the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake Super Bowl half-time reveal, helping prompt congressional inquiry and an FCC fine.

In a recent filing, three former FCC commissioners opposed to the indecency crackdown chastised the FCC for what they said was effectively turning over the TV monitoring function to the PTC.

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.