Subway joins growing ad exit from MTV show 'Skins'

Mon Jan 24, 2011 5:37pm EST

* Parents group urges child porn probe of show

* Network says show complies with rules

* Subway becomes fifth advertiser to pull back

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Sandwich chain Subway on Monday became the fifth company to distance itself from MTV's controversial new series "Skins," pulling its advertising from the teen show after a campaign by a parents TV watchdog.

A representative for Subway told The Hollywood Reporter the company would not be running its ads on Monday's second episode of the drama series about misfit teens who dabble in drink, drugs and sex.

Subway did not immediately return calls seeking confirmation. The 1.3 million-member Parent Television Council had urged its members to contact Subway by email and letters to the chain's thousands of outlets around the United States.

Fast food chain Taco Bell and chewing gum maker Wrigley have also decided to pull out of the show in the past few days, saying "Skins" was not a good fit for their brands.

General Motors and tax preparation firm H&R Block have also disassociated themselves with the show, saying that ads that ran during the Jan. 17 premiere of "Skins" were run by mistake.

The moves follow a call by the Parents Television Council (PTC) last week for the U.S. government to open a child pornography investigation into the show.

Several of the actors on "Skins" are under the age of 18 and the PTC said the content of the show could violate U.S. laws on the sexual exploitation of minors. U.S. child pornography laws forbid the visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

The TV show, based on the British series of the same name, attracted 3.3 million U.S. viewers on its Jan. 17 debut, the vast majority between ages 12 and 34, according to TV ratings figures.

MTV has declined to comment on specific advertisers. But the youth-oriented network said it has "an ongoing dialogue with our advertising partners about the best fit for them on our networks. We know that not every show works for every advertiser.

"That said, we are confident that 'Skins' will continue to connect with the audience it was created for and that advertisers will take advantage of the opportunity to reach them," MTV added.

MTV has expressed confidence that the show "will not only comply with all applicable legal requirements, but also with our responsibilities to our viewers."

The PTC claimed that the show refers more than once per minute of airtime to teen alcohol or drugs.

"We will continue to monitor every broadcast and every rebroadcast of 'Skins' so that we can inform the public which corporations are underwriting underage teen sex, underage teen drug use and underage teen alcohol use," PTC president Tim Winters said in a statement.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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