The Associated Press reports that after many weeks of deliberation, TLC has finally decided to cancel 19 Kids and Counting. The show “will no longer appear on the air,” the network said. This decision comes after it was revealed in May that the eldest Duggar son, Josh, molested several underage girls when he was a teen—including four of his sisters.
In a move to redirect the attention and public outcry, TLC also announced it has teamed with two prominent child-protection organizations for an ongoing campaign to raise awareness about child sexual abuse.
The multi-platform initiative will begin with a one-hour, commercial-free documentary likely airing in late August, the network said. 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.
So there will still be Duggars on the network. Rumor has it that even though 19 Kids and Counting is dead, Jessa and Jill are in talks to star in a spinoff show. As group president of TLC, Animal Planet, and Velocity Networks Marjorie Kaplan told the AP, “We spent the past month and a half in thoughtful consideration about what is the best way forward here.”
Jessa and Jill defended Josh in a Fox News interview last month, explaining that he was just a “young boy in puberty who was a little too curious about girls” and “that got him into some trouble.”
What remains unsaid is when TLC found out about Josh’s abuse in the first place. No executive has said exactly, but it’s unlikely the network first heard about it in May—Josh’s misconduct has been an open secret in his church and in online forums dedicated to the Duggars for years. Even Oprah Winfrey found out about the allegations against Josh in 2006, when the Duggars were scheduled to appear on her show. She forwarded the information to the Department of Human Services, which triggered a police investigation.
Kaplan did admit that she was “completely unaware” of the pervasiveness of child sexual abuse before the Duggar scandal. “The goal is to take what has been a difficult and painful experience, and focus that attention on the really critical issue of child protection and child sexual abuse,” she said.