TV watchdog calls for child porn probe of "Skins"

Thu Jan 20, 2011 8:14pm EST
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By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A television watchdog group on Thursday asked the U.S. government to open a child pornography investigation into the new MTV series "Skins."

The Parents Television Council, which has 1.3 million members, said the drama about, and starring, teens as young as 15 years old could violate U.S. laws against the sexual exploitation of minors and statutes against child pornography.

"Skins," a drama series about misfit teens who dabble in drink, drugs and sex, made its debut on youth-oriented MTV on Sunday.

On Thursday, fast food chain Taco Bell, owned by Yum Brands Inc, pulled its commercials from the program.

The show, based on the British series of the same name, attracted 3.3 million U.S. viewers, the vast majority between ages 12 and 34, according to TV ratings figures.

In a letter to the Justice Department and the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary committees, the PTC called for an immediate investigation "regarding child pornography and exploitation on MTV's "Skins."

"Many of the actors appearing in the show are below the age of 18. It is clear that Viacom (which owns MTV) has knowingly produced material that may well be in violation of any or all of the following federal statutes," the PTC letter added, citing four U.S. statutes.

U.S. child pornography laws forbid the visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Those under the age of 18 are considered to be minors.   Continued...