On Sunday 5/22/11, the 2011 Billboard Music Awards aired in prime time on ABC, and the first song featured recording artists Rihanna and Britney Spears performing material outside of PTC’s comfort zone. The watchdog is calling out both ABC and the program’s advertisers.
PTC said the performance was sexually suggestive (and there is no doubt that Rihanna’s lyrics as quoted by PTC were) and that the entire sequence mimicked a strip-tease performance. However, no words on the forbidden list were uttered, nor were any forbidden body parts exposed.
Nevertheless, PTC said the material was inappropriate for family hour viewing. The program aired at 8PM or 7PM, depending on time zone.
PTC wrote to supporters, “If YOU are sick and tired of Hollywood dumping explicit sex shows into your living room, TAKE ACTION! Contact ABC-Disney and the show’s advertisers — Chevrolet, Old Navy and McDonalds, among others — and let them know that you plan to “vote with your wallet” next time you’re shopping! The network and every sponsor must explain to the public why they would use their ad dollars and squander their good-will with America’s families by delivering S&M themes and imagery to teen audiences.”
RBR-TVBR observation: OK, a show of hands – is anybody out there surprised that a musical awards show might play close to the decency edge? However, the rules are the rules, the material aired on this program could have been aired any time, day or night, we doubt that either ABC or advertisers will suffer any meaningful consequences at the hand of average Americans, and anyone who doesn’t like can do what we did – watch or do something else.
PTC is perfectly within its rights to complain – we would caution that it should be mindful of the fact that many times, all its complaints do is bring additional beneficial publicity to the entity it is trying to punish.