TLC cancels Duggars' '19 Kids and Counting,' plans documentary on child abuse

TLC cancels Duggars' '19 Kids and Counting,' plans documentary on child abuse
TLC is canceling "19 Kids and Counting." The show had been in limbo since May, after reports that eldest son Josh Duggar molested five children, including four of his sisters. (Beth Hall / Associated Press)

The Duggars are done on TLC.

The cable network owned by Discovery Communications announced Thursday that it will cancel "19 Kids and Counting," the long-running reality series that centers on Arkansas couple Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and their 19 children.

The series has been off the air since May, when it was reported that the couple's eldest son, Josh, inappropriately touched five underage girls – four of them his sisters, the other a baby sitter – when he was a minor. Josh Duggar, now 27, was never arrested or charged.

"We spent the past month and a half in thoughtful consideration about the best way forward here," said Marjorie Kaplan, group president of TLC, Animal Planet and Velocity networks, in a statement given to the Associated Press.

TLC also announced it would air a documentary in late August that deals with child abuse and that two of Josh's reported victims – his sisters Jill and Jessa - would be included in the special. The network has teamed with two organizations that deal with raising the awareness of sexual violence and child abuse.

The Duggars were TLC's top attraction, averaging more than 3 million viewers per episode. The series had aired on the network since 2008, but when the show was pulled after the reports about Josh Duggar, advertisers distanced themselves immediately, putting its future in jeopardy.

While Discovery executives huddled to find a way to come up with a Duggars spinoff, the family name has been too tarnished by the coverage of their scandal for advertisers to have a comfortable association with it.

Josh Duggar apologized for his actions in a statement on his Facebook page and resigned from his position at the Family Research Council, a conservative lobbying group.