Parents up in arms over MTV's racy 'Skins' ask Congress to investigate

A leading parent advocacy group up in arms over MTV's provocative television show "Skins" is urging Congress to investigate potential violations of federal child pornography laws.

The Parents Television Council (PTC), a watchdog group that has previously protested "Gossip Girl" and a recent photo shoot of cast members from the Fox musical "Glee," has called the show "the most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children."

ADVERTISEMENT
PTC President Tim Winter called for an investigation in a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary committees and the Department of Justice on Thursday. The group objects to the show's frank depiction of sex and drug use among teenagers, some of whom are portrayed by minors.

"Since it is not necessary for Viacom or MTV to distribute the material in order to be in violation of the law, we call upon your committees to immediately investigate Viacom and MTV for the production of this material," Winter said.

Raising the stakes is an upcoming episode set for broadcast Jan. 31 that filmed 17-year-old actor Jesse Carere from behind as he ran down a street naked. MTV executives are reportedly concerned the episode may violate laws against depicting minors engaged in sexually explicit content.

Unlike "Glee" and other TV shows depicting sexually active teenagers, the actors in "Skins" are still teenagers, rather than actors in their 20s. The youngest cast member on the show is 15.

"Furthermore, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to compel the Attorney General to mount an investigation by the Department of Justice into whether the production of "Skins" has violated federal law meant to protect minors from exploitation," Winter continued.

Policing indecent content is traditionally the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission, but recent court decisions have cast doubt on the agency's ability to enforce its indecency policy.

Despite drawing 3.3 million viewers to its Monday night premier, "Skins" has already lost one major sponsor, Taco Bell. The American version of the popular BBC show is rated TV-MA but still drew 1.2 million viewers under the age of 18. MTV may choose to edit future episodes to reduce the risk of raising the government's ire.