The 'To Catch a Predator' segment of 'Dateline NBC' is falling victim to advertisers' sensitivity to its controversial material. In the segment, Chris Hansen ensnares men trolling Internet chat rooms looking for sex with minors. It's been a big hit for the network, driving ratings for the evening news program. But, The Times' Brian Stelter reports:
The network has filmed only one sting operation so far this year, compared with seven in 2006. In several ways, the high ratings for “Predator” have come at a high price for NBC. Some advertisers say they are wary of being associated with the show’s content, in which men lured to a house by the promise of a sexual encounter are instead surprised by Mr. Hansen and then arrested.
Critics have also raised ethics questions about the series because NBC coordinates the investigations with a private watchdog group and local police departments. And two lawsuits are pending against the network, one by a former producer and another by the sister of a man who committed suicide as police officers approached his house, accompanied by NBC camera crews.