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Lawmakers Demand Action from Former Village Voice Execs

Press Release

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Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Daniel Akaka (D-HI) today wrote to Scott Tobias, CEO of the newly formed Voice Media Group, Inc. The Voice Media Group is set to acquire most assets currently owned by Village Voice Media Holdings, LLC, with the exception of Backpage.com.

Investors and advertisers continue to disassociate from Village Voice Media assets upon the revelation its subsidiary Backpage is a major facilitator of child sex trafficking and the leading U.S. website for prostitution. 19 U.S. Senators, 51 Attorneys General, dozens of human rights organizations, clergy members and citizens have called for Village Voice Media to do the right thing and eliminate the "adult entertainment" section of Backpage. Instead, executives chose to avoid the public relations disaster Backpage rightly caused by opening other Village Voice Media holdings.

Senators Blumenthal, Kirk, Rubio, Cornyn, Durbin and Akaka expressed their disappointment in the lack of action these executives took to end the sexual exploitation of minors on Backpage and insisted the executives "take the steps necessary to terminate the prostitution advertising on Backpage." The Senators affirmed they would "continue to hold any current or former Village Voice Media subsidiaries and related successor corporate structures accountable until such action has been achieved."

Referencing a September Associated Press article, the Senators wrote: "You were recently quoted as saying "Backpage has been a distraction … to the core (editorial) properties.' We are dismayed that you view child slavery as merely a "distraction' from the publishing business." The full text of the letter can be found here.

In September 2011, 51 Attorneys General wrote to Backpage.com calling on it to follow the lead of Craigslist.com and shut down the "adult entertainment" section of its website.

In March 2012, 19 U.S. Senators wrote to Jim Larkin, CEO of Village Voice Media Holdings to take down "adult entertainment" ads from backpage.com.

On April 12, 2012, Senators Blumenthal, Kirk, Rubio and Cornyn wrote a letter to 40 organizations and companies that advertised on Village Voice asking them to use their economic influence to pressure Village Voice Media to take down Backpage's "adult entertainment" section. Several companies responded to the letter, and decided to pull advertising and ensured no new advertising with Village Voice would occur.

On April 25, 2012, Senators Blumenthal and Kirk introduced Senate Resolution 439, which called on Village Voice Media to eliminate the "adult entertainment" section of Backpage.com.


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