When a network wants to dump a hit reality series after word breaks one of show’s family members molested his sisters, what’s the best way to bury the news? Put it out on a wire service on Emmy noms morning of course! Except, TLC apparently forgot Emmy noms are delayed three hours this year. TLC’s announcement, bright and early when Emmy noms and snubs would otherwise be all the talk, has nicely filled that void. Oops.
TLC told the Associated Press a little after 6 AM that its reality hit 19 Kids And Counting will not be returning to the air. The network pulled it from the schedule in May, as did Hulu, amid child molestation charges surrounding now-grown Josh Duggar, who issued a Facebook apology for “my wrongdoing.”
So much for the Duggar parents’ campaign to salvage the show via an interview with Fox News Channel’s Megyn Kelly. “I think this is the Duggars’ effort to try to get out from under that pressure cooker,” Kelly had told Deadline in advance of that June exclusive. “They very much understand their show and reputation are on the line.” But, she said, the Duggars also believe the show “has a chance still. It’s not totally done.”
Josh Duggar had been investigated for allegedly fondling the breasts and genitals of underage girls, including some of his sisters, when he was a teenager. The network and parent company Discovery Communications took heat as this all became public, for continuing its lucrative relationship with the family despite years-long rumors of impropriety. Duggar, now in his late 20s, said in May on a Facebook post, that 12 years ago he “acted inexcusably for which I am extremely sorry and deeply regret” for unspecified actions, and that he “confessed this to my parents who took several steps to help me address the situation.” Josh resigned from the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group, where he had worked as a lobbyist.
When TLC removed the show from its airwaves in the spring, it came after the show had wrapped what the network was calling Season 9A and the network had not announced whether it was picking up the show for another season. In October, a series-record average of 4.4 million people tuned in to see 19 Kids And Counting’s Jill Duggar and Derick Dillard get married — it made TLC the No. 1 cable network of the night in total viewers and among all key women demos and was the network’s most-viewed telecast in four years.
“We spent the past month and a half in thoughtful consideration about what is the best way forward here,” said Marjorie Kaplan, group president of TLC, Animal Planet and Velocity networks.
TLC also announced it has teamed with two child-protection organizations for an ongoing campaign to raise awareness about child sexual abuse.The multi-platform initiative will begin with a one-hour, commercial-free documentary, which will air in August, and will include the participation of Jill and Jessa Duggar, two of Josh’s victims, as well as other survivors and families affected by abuse.
Since 2008 TLC’s most watched series had followed the ever expanding family of Arkansas couple Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar.
TLC is partnering with Darkness to Light, whose mission is providing interested parties with techniques for protecting children from sexual abuse, and RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), which describes itself as the nation’s largest anti-sexual-violence organization.
Today’s announcement marks the second time TLC has pulled the plug on a successful series suddenly caught up in scandal. Last October, it pulled the plug on reality series Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, about child beauty-pageant queen Honey Boo Boo and her Georgia family after the completion of filming an upcoming season, after reports that her mother, June Shannon, was again dating a convicted child molester. Back then, TLC issued a statement saying it is “faithfully committed to the children’s ongoing comfort and well-being,” TLC said in a statement back then.
“We are fine whether they film us or not,” Jim Bob Duggar told Fox News Channel’s Kelly in June, in re their TLC series. “We’re gonna go on and live life. We’re gonna serve God and make a difference in the world,” the family patriarch told the Fox News star.