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'Kate Plus 8' child work permits defended

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry Tuesday defended work permits it issued allowing the 6-year-old sextuplets of Kate Gosselin to appear in the reality series "Kate Plus 8." A department official says the permits are valid, and the case is closed. Bottom line, it looks as if the TLC show goes on despite questions raised by child advocates about the permits.

Last week, Pennsylvania State Rep. Thomas Murt questioned the validity of the permits, which run until Oct. 20, since they only allowed the children to appear in "public performances" -- not TV productions. Children under seven years of age are not allowed to appear in TV shows in Pennsylvania.

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While Murt asked the attorney general to investigate the matter of the permits, that has not yet happened. Furthermore, under rules of protocal, it will only happen if the depertment of Labor & Industry asks the attorney general to rule on the matter.

And Tuesday, in a phone interview with the Baltimore Sun, Troy Thompson, a spokesman for the Department of Labor & Industry, said his office will not be asking the attorney general's advice.

Thompson defended the "performance" permits saying "they do what they need to do in terms of applying legal protections governing their (the sextuplet's) hours and education, the types of activities that they can perform, and making sure that we have access to all the filming done in Pennsylvania -- and they also mandate the earnings continue to be conserved for the children."

Aiming for absolute clarity, I asked Thompson the following question: "So, as far as you are concerned these permits are fine, they are the right ones that the children should have, and as far as your department is concerned, the issue is closed."

He answered, "Yes."

But Murt issued a statement in response to that saying he disagrees: "While the genre of Reality TV is new, the law is not.  It is explicit. Children under 7 in Pennsylvania are not allowed on television for their own health and well-being.  I still believe L&I must seek the advice from the Attorney General on this apparent inconsistency in the law and the work permits."

Even if L&I refuses to seek the attorney general's advice, Murt says he will continue his fight for reform in the legislature.

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