’19 Kids and Counting’ Cancelled: The Duggars Speak Out

16 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

19 Kids and Counting Canceled by TLC.

Discovery Communications’ TLC will cancel the controversial “19 Kids and Counting,” the popular program about the large Duggar clan that became a hot potato for the network once a member of the family disclosed he had sexually molested teenage girls – including two of his sisters – several years ago. In this Aug. 2, 2007 file photo, Michelle Duggar, left, is surrounded by her children and husband Jim Bob, tsecond from left, after the birth of her 17th child in Rogers, Ark.

The family appears to be at peace with the network’s decision to cancel the long-running reality show featuring their large family and it appears there are no hard feelings. “Years ago, when we were asked to film our first one hour documentary about the logistics of raising 14 children, we felt that it was an opportunity to share with the world that children are a blessing and a gift from God.On Thursday, TLC announced that it has canceled 19 Kids and Counting due to the revelation that one of its stars, Josh Duggar, allegedly molested several young girls—including four of his sisters.* The network pulled the show of the air shortly after InTouch published police reports detailing Duggar’s misdeeds, and Duggar tacitly conceded that the reports were accurate.“We spent the past month and a half in thoughtful consideration about what is the best way forward here,” Marjorie Kaplan, group president of TLC, said in a statement to the Associated Press. The network intends to air a commercial-free one-hour special on child abuse in the fall, and has consulted with advocacy organizations like the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network in the production of the show.

Perhaps to make amends for bringing fame to an alleged child molester, TLC is partnering with Darkness to Light, which works to prevent child sexual abuse, and RAINN, an anti-rape organization. It will include the participation of Jill and Jessa Duggar, two of the sisters Josh Duggar touched inappropriately, as well as other survivors and families affected by such abuse. For his part, Josh has maintained a low profile since acknowledging his past crimes, resigning his position at the viciously anti-gay Family Research Council and even avoiding family photos. Since 2008, the series – TLC’s most watched, averaging 3.2 million viewers – had chronicled the family life of Arkansas couple Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their children, now numbering 19.

It was pulled from the network in May when reports surfaced of the molestations that occurred a dozen years earlier. “[O]ur daughters and our entire family overcame a terrible situation, found healing and a way forward. While TLC will no longer produce “19 Kids,” the network is open to the idea of launching a new program that could focus on some of the Duggar daughters and their families, this person said. Although the Duggar parents openly mourned the Supreme Court’s decision bringing marriage equality to every state, Josh declined to comment publicly.

In 2014, TLC had to grapple with reports that June Shannon, one of the central figures in the popular reality series “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” was dating a man convicted of child molestation. While it’s hardly typical for any network to drop its biggest show, this is not the first time Kaplan has pulled the plug on a successful series suddenly caught up in scandal.

TLC is in the midst of repositioning itself as “a brand with purpose,” said Kaplan, since 1997 an executive with parent Discovery Communications who took over TLC a year ago. It premiered this week. “It’s no secret that `19 Kids and Counting’ was a really, really hit show,” said Kaplan, acknowledging the scale of that loss. “But we have some other great shows, both on the air and in the pipeline.”

General Mills, Choice Hotels Intl. and Payless Shoe Source all indicated they were working to keep their ads separate from “19,” even though none of the advertisers said they were puling ads from TLC or Discovery in general. The controversy broke just weeks after Discovery Communications executives made it seem as if they wanted to tweak TLC’s image as a breeding ground for reality programming that sheds a light on dysfunctional people and families. “We throw our arms open to everyone, without judgment,” said Marjorie Kaplan, a group president at Discovery who oversees TLC, during a recent presentation on Discovery’s new programming to the media. She professed a desire to dial back the network’s sensational elements and play up a feeling of inclusiveness, likening the outlet to “a big warm hug.” While TLC may no longer give a TV platform to all the Duggars, it is continuing to burnish programming with a strong faith-based elements. “Answered Prayers,” a program hosted by actress and producer Roma Downey, will explore modern-day miracles and people who profess to have experienced divine intervention after finding themselves placed in life-threatening situations.

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