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Press Release

October 4, 2006

PTC Links Indecent Programming to Media Consolidation


Broadcast Networks Ignore Community Standards of Decency and

Cable Networks Force Carriage of Raunchy Programming


LOS ANGELES (October 4, 2006) – The Parents Television Council™ Executive Director Tim Winter testified that media consolidation has led to fewer considerations for community standards of decency on broadcast television, and to families being forced to subscribe raunchy programming on cable television, at the Federal Communication Commission's 2006 Quadrennial Broadcast Media Ownership Review held in Los Angeles on Tuesday.  The following are excerpts from Mr. Winter's remarks:


"Over the past decade, all of us here on this panel have witnessed – first-hand – the harmful effects of media consolidation on programming. My perspective is as a parent and as an advocate for more and better family programming. And from where I sit, media consolidation has dealt a devastating blow.


"Congress gave the FCC the authority to enforce broadcast decency on the public airwaves before 10 pm, and the Supreme Court has affirmed the constitutionality of that law. And since the Commission last dealt with the issue of media ownership three years ago, millions of Americans have filed formal complaints about broadcast indecency violations. All but a handful of those complaints reflect national network television broadcasts. With very few exceptions, network-owned television stations do not consider community decency standards.


"In May of 2003, the PTC conducted a survey of approximately a hundred TV stations around the United States which were owned and operated by one of the four major television networks. We found only one station – in one instance – had ever preempted a network program based on community standards of decency. And one station general manager admitted that the network, not the station, made her programming decisions. When local programming decisions are prohibited by a remote corporate parent, the public interest is not served.


"Broadcasters now say that the indecency law is no longer valid due to technology solutions like the v-chip. But the v-chip relies on a ratings system in order to function properly. But we found that television program ratings are inaccurate up to 60%-80% of the time. One reason why the rating system is unreliable is that the networks, themselves, rate their programs. Advertisers often choose not to sponsor maturely-rated programs, so the networks face a financial conflict-of-interest to rate programs accurately. The result is that the networks rate a program inaccurately and they keep the advertisers' money. Families and advertisers lose.


"Sadly, the effects of media consolidation on program content do not end here. Some broadcast networks use the ‘retransmission consent' rules to force their cable network properties onto cable and satellite programming bundles. Cable and satellite executives have testified before Congress to this effect.


"If the American public wants to pay a monthly fee to NBC to watch reruns of Dateline on MSNBC; or a fee to Viacom for graphic, teen-themed sex and profanity on MTV; or, as we saw just last week, a fee to News Corp. for a program on Fox's cable network where a woman satisfied her sexual desires with her pet dog while her husband was fighting in Iraq, then by-gosh the industry can offer networks to fill those needs. But they should not and must not be able to force this programming into 80-plus million homes without consumers deciding to select and pay for those networks."


Click Here to read excerpts from Mr. Winter's remarks.

To watch the video clip click here.


To schedule an interview with a PTC representative, please contact Kelly Oliver at (703) 683-5004, ext. 140.

The Parents Television Council™ (www.parentstv.org®) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has over one million members across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.




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