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May 20, 2010

Parents group threatens CBS show

Upfronts_blogThe "$#*!" is already hitting the fan.

With CBS is rolling out a show this fall that hints at an expletive in its title, watchdog group the Parents Television Council is threatening the network's affiliates with a challenge to their broadcast licenses.

ShitAt its upfront presentation in New York on Wednesday, CBS announced "$#*!" My Dad Says," a new comedy based on the popular Twitter feed "Shit My Dad Says." The show will air at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday nights this fall. The comedy stars William Shatner in the title role as a curmudgeon who dispenses politically incorrect opinions and advice to his son (trailer here).

Tim Winter, president of the Los Angeles-based PTC, said he was aware that CBS was developing a series based on the Twitter sensation, but "we couldn't imagine that a network would actually name a program either with an expletive or with the expletive ostensibly bleeped out."

"We're talking here not about a Twitter feed, we're talking about broadcast television that requires a license to use the airwaves," Winter said. "There are an infinite number of alternatives that CBS could have chosen but its desire to shock and offend is crystal clear in this decision."

Winter is threatening an "unrelenting campaign" against the show's advertisers and to issue challenges against the license of any affiliate that airs the show before 10 p.m.

CBS will promote the show verbally with the word "bleep" instead of the profanity in ads -- as in, "Bleep My Dad Says." 

But the network doesn't need to spell out of one George Carlin's famous Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV for viewers to decode the the title. Having a broadcast network air a comedy with a semi-quasi-it's-there-but-not profanity may also make it tougher for the network to wrangle advertisers.

"Certain marketers won't have a problem with it and some may be a little bit skittish," said Brad Adgate, senior vp of media at Horizon Research. "Every marketer has a different threshold. I don't think they would have as much a problem with that than they would have with content, like gratuitous sex or violence." 

CBS maintains that the show itself will be perfectly suitable for family viewing.

"The program is inspired by the wildly popular Twitter phenomenon, which now has more than 1.5 million followers and also has spawned a best-selling book of the same name," said CBS in a statement. "It will in no way be indecent and will adhere to all CBS standards. Parents who choose to do so will find the show can easily be blocked using their V Chip." -- The AP contributed to this report





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