VMA Performance Violated MTV’s Own Broadcast, Workplace Standards

Barbara Hollingsworth | August 27, 2013 | 3:39pm EDT
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Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke at MTV's Video Music Awards. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) -- MTV violated its own broadcast and workplace standards when it allowed pig-tailed pop singer Miley Cyrus, clad in a flesh-colored bikini, to perform simulated sex acts with Robin Thicke before a stunned crowd at the network’s Video Music Awards in Brooklyn Sunday.

MTV is owned by Viacom, the world’s fourth largest media conglomerate, which also owns Black Entertainment Television (BET), Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Paramount Pictures and Spike TV.

“I worked at BET for 10 years, so I know MTV’s broadcast standards. MTV would never accept that behavior in a music video,” former BET executive Paul Porter, a member of the Parents Television Council (PTC's) Advisory Board, told CNSNews.com.

“If you were submitting a music video, MTV would rate it and request edits. They do it all the time. But when it comes to their music video awards show, they don’t apply their own 'Standards and Practices'," he said.

MTV’s broadcast standards “have a moving border, but they crossed it with Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke. This was not like Janet Jackson’s ‘wardrobe malfunction,’ where they could play it off as a surprise,” Porter added. “It was quite obvious that this was a pre-programmed dance routine” MTV allowed for “financial gain.”

The performance was even more disturbing because “MTV audiences are skewing younger and younger. Their biggest age bracket is between 14 and 24, weighted at the end of the younger bracket, and that’s scary,” Porter added.

“When I was working at Viacom, if I did something like that with a co-worker in the halls, I’d be fired,” he pointed out. “They have one set of rules for the workplace, but those rules don’t apply to their broadcasts.”

The New York-based Viacom, MTV’s parent company, did not respond to numerous requests by CNSNews.com for a copy of its broadcast “Standards and Practices.”

In an interview the day after the broadcast, Viacom president Van Toffler called the VMA show, which was watched by 10 million viewers, “ a wonderfully chaotic mess of unforgettable performances — everything you could hope for as a producer of a live music show," and “a huge success for us.”

He  also admitted MTV executives  “knew her (Cyrus’) performance was going to be provocative the way her video is. But on live TV, the performers turn it up a couple of notches.”

“Something always happens [at the awards show] every year,” Porter agreed. “That’s why you watch. But I was really sort of surprised they went to that length with a 20-year-old.” He added that the reaction of the face of actor Will Smith, who was attending the VMAs with his young children, says it all: “Everybody was in shock.”

“MTV has once again succeeded in marketing sexually charged messages to young children using former child stars and condom commercials -- while falsely rating this program as appropriate for kids as young as 14. This is unacceptable,” Dan Isett, PTC's director of public policy, said in a statement.

“This much is absolutely clear: MTV marketed adults-only material to children while falsely manipulating the content rating to make parents think the content was safe for their children.”

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