PTC Searching for Local Chapters
Gavin McKiernan was on the recruiting trail in Oklahoma city Nov. 19. But, he wasn’t searching for the next football or basketball superstar coming out of the Sooner State.
McKiernan, National Grassroots Director for the Parents Television Council (PTC) in Los Angeles, was in town hoping to find a few men and women who are disgusted with what their children are exposed to on television, in videos and on film.
PTC, according to its Web site, www.parentstv.org, “is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. Our national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. We are a nonpartisan organization that works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.”
PTC has 54 local chapters in the U.S., but none in Oklahoma. That’s why McKiernan came to the Sooner State.
“We’re hoping to get some local chapters going in Oklahoma,” he said. We have 54 chapters around the country, but none in Oklahoma.”
State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, a member at Del City, First Southern, and a member of the Rose Day Committee of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Committee, hosted McKiernan and arranged a couple of speaking engagements for him.
McKiernan said the PTC helps battle the negative influence of television in a couple of ways.
“First of all, education is a big part of what we do,” he explained. “Going out and talking at events and getting some of our research out. The effect of television on children is proven. There have been thousands of studies done, and all of the major medical and child welfare groups agree about the huge effects it can have on children. So we try to educate people about what is going on in the medium, because a lot of people may not be seeing this stuff; their kids are, but they’re not in the room, or their kids are at their friend’s house, and they don’t really realize what’s going on.
“A lot of people say they knew it was bad 10 or 15 years ago the last time they watched a lot of television, and they don’t realize how much worse it has gotten. So we try to spread information about what’s going on-including some of our research-so people can be informed and hopefully stir them to action.”
McKiernan said local chapter directors are an important cog in the PTC operation.
“One of the things our local chapter directors do is to go out and speak to PTAs, civic clubs and churches and give them some informational briefings,” he said. “Then, once we have people educated, we hope to be able to make them active, and there are a couple of things we are working on legislatively.
“There are certain times that a call or an e-mail to an elected official can have an impact, and we let them know about that, of course, and one of our big pushes is to get the advertisers of those programs to pay attention to what they are paying for because when you think about television, the consumer has the power. The advertiser pays for what is put on the air, and we inform them that the content of a program they are sponsoring is not good.
“A lot of times we get an immediate response back telling us that they agree that they don’t want their product associated with that type of content, and they won’t be on that show again. Sometimes, they need a little bit more convincing, and that’s when we get our membership involved and have them contact the advertiser through phone calls or e-mails and let them know they are paying attention.”
Besides educating the public, McKiernan said promoting legislation is another goal of the PTC.
“Legislatively, we’re pushing for a couple of things,” he pointed out. “We want to make sure the FCC maintains its ability to regulate indecency, and we want to institute cable choice. That’s probably our biggest push. We started it a few of years ago, and it’s picking up steam. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of money on the other side of the issue.
“Basically, the average person receives more than 100 channels in their home, but watches only six of them with any regularity. Most of them they’re just not interested in. You should be able to pick and choose, but you can’t because it’s a monopolistic system controlled by six companies. We’ve been pushing legislation to change that. The consumer doesn’t have the power in that situation, because they have us over the barrel.”
PTC says large media conglomerates bundle their most popular networks together with other less-popular networks, forcing consumers to receive and pay for all of them. For example, the children’s network Nickelodeon comes packaged with anti-family programming such as MTV and VH-1.
“You may find MTV morally reprehensible, and you’ve got to protect your children from that. But, even if you don’t have children in your home, you’re paying MTV for having them on your cable lineup,” McKiernan said. “You’re giving them money to market to other people’s children and, in effect, society. That’s just wrong.”
McKiernan said legislation concerning cable choice was introduced during the last session of Congress, “but it really didn’t get anywhere. We’ll have to get it reintroduced in January.”
Those interested in contacting McKiernan may do so at firstname.lastname@example.org.