US ‘child porn’ storm over UK teen TV drama

A US version of an explicit teen TV drama, Skins, looks set to crash in America, but here in the UK its fifth series has just started.

The US version of the controversial show has stirred up a storm, with suggestions that it breaks child pornography laws.

Top brands have pulled their advertising from the programme amid plummeting viewing figures and strong criticism of its explicit sexual content.

Explicit

Yet the UK version of Skins has started its fifth series, aired on the E4 channel operated by Channel 4. And an advertising agency has boasted of its involvement with the UK show.

In the US an article in The New York Times reported TV bosses were concerned that some scenes of the show might breach US child pornography laws.

The paper claimed bosses at the show’s broadcasters, MTV, had ordered some of the most explicit content to be toned down. An unnamed MTV source later denied this.

Worried

US TV bosses are reportedly particularly worried about the third episode of the series in which a 17-year-old male actor is shown running naked down a street after being locked out by his parents.

The actor’s genitalia are also the focus of ongoing jokes in the episode.

Child pornography is defined in the US as any visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. A minor is anyone under the age of 18.

Controversy

As the controversy developed, well-known companies, including L’Oreal, Wrigley and Foot Locker pulled their ads from the show.

General Motors (GM) also disassociated itself from the show.

An advert for the company had aired in the first episode, but GM said it was run by mistake.

Crude

Viewing figures for the show have dropped off, with the second episode of the series reportedly pulling in only half the numbers of the first.

The show has been slammed by pluggedin.com, a website run by family values group Focus on the Family: “Teens disrobe whenever convenient, smoke pot whenever possible and swear as much as the censors allow.

“Used occasionally, the f-word is bleeped. The same cannot be said of the s-word, or any of the other frequent profanities, or the crude monikers for various body parts, or the slew of sexual allusions.”

In response to the New York Times article, an MTV spokeswoman said: “‘Skins’ is a show that addresses real-world issues confronting teens in a frank way”.

Comply

She continued: “We review all of our shows and work with all of our producers on an ongoing basis to ensure our shows comply with laws and community standards.

“We are confident that the episodes of ‘Skins’ will not only comply with all applicable legal requirements, but also with our responsibilities to our viewers.”

The broadcaster claimed: “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.”

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