Few may recall that TLC stands for The Learning Channel, and the network has admitted that its programming in recent years hasn’t exactly been educational. In fact, TLC boss Marjorie Kaplan memorably called the network—which stars like Honey Boo Boo have called home—a “freak show.”
Now in the wake of its latest scandal with the Duggar family, TLC is airing a special on sexual abuse. But will the special be enough to help the network bounce back from yet another reality family scandal?
“TLC is obviously trying to save face with this special, and I am sure something good will come out of it, but it’s not enough to save the network,” pop culture expert Cate Meighan predicted.
Meighan said the network needs to fix internal issues to avoid future scandals.
“It’s not to say that they are not headed in the right direction, however, the problem isn’t just that Josh Duggar molested his sisters or that Honey Boo Boo’s mother is linked to a child molester… the problem is behind the scenes,” Meighan told FOX411. “Whoever works at TLC didn’t do their footwork before making these people the face of TLC.”
Ryan McCormick, of Goldman McCormick PR, said if the network wants to avoid future headline-making scandals, TLC could “go back to their roots and discover new [educational] programming that is akin to what made them.”
Meighan added the shows at the network “kind of became a carnival sideshow” in recent years, drifting TLC farther away from its Learning Channel name.
“Something good comes out of their shows—you may have to squint to see it—but it is there, but these scandals have been devastating for the network,” she noted. “And it’s costing them now.”
Meighan noted that TLC’s sexual abuse documentary, “Breaking the Silence” airs on Aug. 30 as the attention-grabbing VMAs will be airing on MTV.
“The timing might not be coincidental,” she said. “It’s not a topic that they wanted to approach because it had become a scandal within the network. It might be something that’s it is there, but they are hoping that people are missing it.”
Two members of the Duggar family—Jill Dillard and Jessa Seewald, who have said they were fondled by their brother Josh—appear in “Breaking the Silence.”
McCormick said from a PR standpoint, it’s a mistake for the network to continue to feature the Duggars in any way.
“If they really want to distance themselves [from the Duggar family] they sever all ties. They do what the WWE did, which was completely sever all ties from Hulk Hogan,” McCormick said.
Though last week Josh Duggar admitted to cheating on his wife, Meighan doesn’t expect the special to address the most recent Duggar headlines.
“This is totally different and I don’t think [the special] will go near it because molestation and cheating on your wife are totally different things but what it does is show a pattern of deception… this family not being what they say… It’s a pattern of setting a bad example.”
FOX411 reached out to TLC to find out if Josh Duggar’s most recent scandal would impact the documentary, and a rep for the network simply stated, “’Breaking the Silence’ is still scheduled to air on Aug. 30.”