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MTV Executives Worried Skins May Violate Child Pornography Laws

| 20 Jan 2011 21:40
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Executives at MTV demanded that the producers of the American version of Skins tone down some of the racier content in upcoming episodes.

Skins, the American remake of the British television show, recently premiered on MTV to 3.3 million viewers, 1.2 million of whom were younger than 18. The drama shows the lives of teenagers without sugar-coating sexual activity or drug use. Executives at the network are wondering if they need to shy away from the program's candor, though, as they become concerned that the show may violate United States child pornography laws. To that end, they have reportedly demanded that the show's producers tone down the more explicit content in episodes yet to air.

The New York Times describes such federal statutes, saying, "Child pornography is defined by the United States as any visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct," quoting the US Justice Department guidelines which specify "a picture of a naked child may constitute illegal child pornography if it is sufficiently sexually suggestive." In the US, a minor is anyone under the age of 18. Skins is the rare television show to cast true teenagers, rather than twenty-somethings, as teenagers. Most of the cast, who range in age from 15 to 19, have no prior acting experience.

The concerns are directed towards upcoming episodes, particularly the third episode of this season, which features 17-year-old actor Jesse Carare shown from behind, nude. A running gag in the episode features Carare with an erectile dysfunction pill-induced erection. The Times describes various other episodes as including, "simulated masturbation, implied sexual assault, and teenagers disrobing and getting into bed together."

The Times quotes both the Parent's Television Council, who condemns the show as the "most dangerous program that has ever been foisted on your children," and Newsweek, who called the program, "Skins may be the most realistic show on television." MTV executives declined to comment about the existence of the demands for change, but the Times says one such executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity, described a meeting in which "the executives wondered aloud who could possibly face criminal prosecution and jail time if the episodes were broadcast without changes." No charges have yet been filed against the show, its producers, or the network.

Source: The New York Times

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