Parents Television Council Falls on Hard Times

Andy Chalk

One Flag, One Fleet, One Cat
Nov 12, 2002
Parents Television Council Falls on Hard Times

Times are tough for the decency watchdog group Parents Television Council [], which is struggling with declining revenues, declining interest, allegations of misconduct and even a little pushback from the media.

I've always been simultaneously amused and appalled by the phrase "decency watchdog." It sounds innocuous enough, but "decency" is such a moving target that these groups are inevitably just a cloak for people who want to impose their values on others. So I'll admit to a certain amount of schadenfreude when I read about the hard times at the Parents Television Council, which despite its name has also taken its share of shots at the game industry.

According to a GQ [], but people are starting to lose interest. The recession is blamed for blunting interest; costs are rising while revenues are down dramatically, forcing the group to cut its staff by 38 percent over the past two years. Its output of "major reports" has also been reduced, from four in 2008 to one in 2009 and none so far this year.

Of perhaps more relevance to PTC supporters are allegations leveled by former vice president for development Patrick W. Salazar, who left the group under hazy circumstances in November. The PTC's direct mail campaigns include petitions and solicitations for donations; supporters can sign and return the petition form to be forwarded to the FCC and, optionally, put a few bucks in the envelope as well to help keep the lights on. But according to Salazar, for "at least a period of some months," the PTC was opening envelopes looking for money but not following through with the rest of the process.

"Almost 195,000 pieces of donor/member mail was never sent to the intended recipient," Salazar wrote in an email to PTC President Timothy F. Winter in March 2009. "Most of these were time-sensitive docs whose value is now shot."

"Dude, I told you I was working on fulfillment," Winter responded. "It is under control." He told the Times that the PTC is now caught up with the backlog, but admitted that a "stack of petitions" was too old to be of any value.

Salazar, who, depending on who you ask, either quit or was fired in November 2009, also said the group grossly overstates its membership. The Council claims to have more than 1.3 million members, but Salazar said that includes everyone who has ever signed a petition or donated to the group since its founding in 1995 and that the actual number of regular, annual donors is closer to 12,000. Winter responded by saying that the relatively small number of regular respondents is due at least in part to limits on the number of mailings sent by the group. "We can't afford to communicate with everybody on our total membership list every time," he said.

The entertainment industry, meanwhile, is beginning to show a willingness to push back. In July, a Federal Appeals Courts sided with Fox, CBS and other broadcasters to strike down an FCC policy which prohibited the use of "fleeting expletives" on television. The ban was one of the PTC's "most promoted accomplishments," but the court ruled unanimously [] that the policy "created a chilling effect because it left broadcasters without a guide to what the commission would find offensive." The FCC is currently appealing the decision.

Gamers will know the Parents Television Council best as one of the groups supporting the Supreme Court appeal of California's overturned videogame law, and for calling those who don't agree with its position "violent thugs" and "bullies." [] That's some decency, eh?

via: Ars Technica []



Quite Not Right
Feb 7, 2010
Arkhangelsk said:
All I can do is laugh smugly as they get what they deserve for trying to oppress gaming.
And other forms of entertainment.

So high five!

*attempts to high five you*



New member
Sep 7, 2009
The recession is to blame for blunting interest? I'd get if they blamed the recession for declining funds, but are they claiming that because of the recession not enough young people are getting into complaining any more? The talent is there, but the interest in grass-roots complaining isn't sufficient to properly develop it?


New member
Jan 5, 2008
I had to laugh that the main response here is "Dude, I've got it under control"

Dorkmaster Flek

New member
Mar 13, 2008
You know what? Good. I'm sure the people involved in the group are fine and decent, but if there's one thing we need less of, it's these ridiculous watchdog groups imposing their moral values on the rest of society. The allegations of misconduct, which always seem to appear in these organizations eventually, are just icing on the cake. Good riddance to you, PTC. I enjoy your decline into irrelevance.


New member
Sep 14, 2009
"...which is struggling with declining revenues, declining interest, allegations of misconduct and even a little pushback from the media."



New member
Nov 18, 2009
Serves them right is all I can say. I certainly wouldn't mind it if those "hard times" they've fallen on turn into huge impaling rocks.


New member
Apr 12, 2010
I find it ironic that they promote 'decency' whilst allegedly stealing money, but I guess its ok as long as they don't use naughty language...

Still, good riddance


Elite Member
Dec 1, 2009
That is the best news I've heard all day, I freakin' hate those guys!


Citation Needed
Nov 28, 2007
I always considered this group one of the smaller players overall. This is good news mind you, but hardly a tide-turning victory.

On some levels I actually agree with a lot of "decency crusades". Truthfully the fact that our society can't deal with big issues because of our own morality is why things like video games are used as "boogie men" to feign action. To stop any group from doing anything nowadays, especially something major and noticable that would cause change in society, is going to cause a civil liberties outcry. That's why few things change, and just get progressively worse. There is too much steam on both ends of the spectrum and there is always going to be a moral question in doing almost anything that affects or limits a large group of people, and our system is set up where changes can be prevented simply by raising those questions.

The problem with this paticular group though is that rather than going after paticular behaviors, they are trying to bypass the constitution by crusading for censorship. The idea being that if the media can be censored our kids won't grow up to practice the things that cause those major issues to begin with... allowing those issues to be dealt with indirectly.

I believe the right to free speech, and keeping the goverment out of regulating it, is one of the major cornerstones of society, and unlike many other "rights" is the result of direct intent when the country was founded, rather than something deriving from precedent.

I feel it's fine for the goverment to say ban kids from smoking cigarettes, which is a behavior, but it's wrong to say ban kids from talking about cigarettes, or ban the depiction of smoking (which people have tried) so kids won't see it.

I won't go any further with other examples because a lot of what I think would probably be contreversial and derail the thread.