Local News

Time Warner apologizes for Playboy-kids channel glitch

Posted March 16, 2010 9:58 a.m. EDT
Updated March 16, 2010 7:42 p.m. EDT

Time Warner Cable accidentally had Playboy TV on On Demand channels targeted at kids early Tuesday.

— Time Warner Cable officials apologized Tuesday after they mistakenly showed Playboy preview programming on two children's channels.

TWC spokesman Keith Poston, said, “Basically, we had a piece of equipment fail and what happened is some previews for the Playboy Channel actually got diverted into the preview box on our Kids on Demand (Ch. 252) and our PreSchool On Demand (Ch. 555).”

While the menu of available children's programming was listed on the left side of the screen, previews showing nude women engaged in explicit conversations played in the upper right corner where previews of children's shows normally would appear.

Poston said the explicit content aired from about 6:15 to 8:15 a.m. in parts of Cary, Garner, Morrisville, Wilson, Goldsboro, Willow Spring and Johnston County.

“It took about an hour or so once we were notified of the problem to actually get it fixed,” Poston said. “It was a technical glitch and unfortunately it hit at the worst possible time on the worst possible channels."

As engineers worked to identify the root of the problem, they found pockets of affected homes in communities scattered across the service area. “We would find places where it wasn't, but then it would still be there in another,” he said.

A system designed to monitor content and avoid such cross-pollination missed the glitch. Monitor screens, and the affected channels in most TWC homes, showed only black, Poston said.

It was unclear how many people saw the programming.

“It was a small number of customers,” Poston said, “But one's too many!"

"We're very, very sorry it happened. We know parents are concerned. I have a 9-year-old. I'm a dad. I'd be concerned too," Poston said. "It was a technical malfunction that caused the wrong previews to be shown on our kids on-demand channels."

Poston pointed out that even Time Warner’s robust parental controls would not have blocked the images from viewers who happened upon them Tuesday morning.

“You can block all sorts of programming whether it's adult programming, or by rating,” Poston said.

“But, something like this, where we have programming fed into a preview window that wasn't supposed to be there, the parental controls wouldn't have caught it. “It's not like an image filter like some Internet services provide. We should have caught it and we didn't.”