It appears that NBC’s “Dateline: To Catch a Predator” series will not tape any new shows after settling a lawsuit filed by the brother of the Texas county prosecutor that killed himself after being exposed by the show. The show reported explicit communication between the prosecutor and one of the show’s investigative team members posing as a minor to the local authorities who then headed to his home to arrest him. Before the arrest could be made, he shot himself. The $150 million lawsuit settlement appears to be the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back.”
For the like three or four of you that haven’t seen it- The show often showed activist group, Perverted Justice, engaging in communication with men believing they were contacting underage boys and girls for sexual encounters and then luring them to a house where the cameras would “catch” them in the act and local authorities would be waiting to arrest them. It was a wildly popular show. But it turns out that many of the charges in the arrests made were ultimately dropped.
NBC says it stands by the investigations, but thinks the series has become to highly charged to continue. Seems like the show was difficult to sustain even without its legal troubles. Towards the end of production for the show, the NY Times talked about how advertisers were distancing themselves from the show anyway. No one wanted to be associated with a show about pedophiles. And it’s said that NBC “spent tens of thousands of dollars on each sting, installing hidden cameras and microphones. It has also paid Perverted Justice a consulting fee of roughly $70,000 for each episode.”
So while the show was good for viewership it was bad for business. I guess NBC won’t be going down that road again.