Kate Gosselin’s new show Kate Plus Eight lost more than one million viewers, nearly a third of its audience, between its first episode in June and its second that aired Sunday. But that’s not the only bad news for Kate and the program’s producers.
Rep. Tom Murt, a leader in the fight to reform Pennsylvania’s child labor laws, has asked the state attorney general to investigate whether The Eights work permits are legal.
Thsi isn’t the first time Kate has had to deal with Mr. Murt and the question of child labor.In May 2009 the state of Pennsylvania opened an investigation into Jon and Kate Plus 8 after a complaint was made about working conditions on the show. TLC responded that it was in compliance with state laws and was working closely with the state to provide information about how the family was filmed. No penalties were imposed.
Copies of the permits for Kate’s new show have been obtained and the validity is in question. Pennsylvania state law permits children who are at least seven years old to work in the entertainment industry as long as a permit is obtained and certain rules are followed. The law allows performers younger than seven to have “temporary employment … in the production of a motion picture.”
The problem: Kate’s sextuplets are only six-years-old. Murt believes the state issued permits to the producers that it does not have the authority to issue. “As I read the law, permits for children under age 7 are available for performing in a movie, but permits are not available for children under age 7 to participate in a television show,” he said. “I have asked the attorney general to examine the law and clarify whether the permit process provides for such performances.”
If he is right and Kate and TLC are found in violation, the show could be shuttered.
Clearly something needs to be done when it comes to policing children on reality shows. With many of these programs, kids do not need to obtain permits and child labor laws do not apply because the programs are labeled as documentaries. Many productions have not been unionized, so there are no guild rules set up to protect kids which means that there is nothing to ensure they work an appropriate amount of hours, have the breaks they need, go to school, or are kept out of harms way. In addition, many do not receive payment.