Statement by Tim Winter
Executive Director of the Parents Television Council
In Support of
TiVo's "KidZone" Product Announcement
New York City, March 2, 2006
morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Tim Winter, and I am the
executive director of the Parents Television Council; the nation's most
influential advocacy organization protecting children from graphic sex,
violence and profanity in the media. On behalf of the more than one
million members of the PTC, it is an honor and a pleasure to be here
with you today in support of TiVo's new service, called KidZone.
Last year I
received a phone call from TiVo's President and CEO, Tom Rogers. Tom
told me that TiVo was developing an exciting new feature that would help
parents protect their children from harmful and offensive programming,
and that he would like the PTC opinion on the product specifications.
I will be
honest; I was skeptical. Skeptical because I've seen the V-chip and
channel-blocking technologies offered by the broadcast and cable
industries. Skeptical because the V-chip is based on a ratings system
which most parents don't understand. Skeptical because a television
program's rating is determined by the TV network rather than by parents,
and the network is financially motivated to under-rate a program because
advertisers might not sponsor it if rated as violent or sexually
explicit. Skeptical because, as the PTC proved in a research paper last
year, the television ratings system is inaccurate much if not most
of the time. Skeptical because the industry has used the V-chip as a
"Trojan Horse" by which to broadcast even more violent and sexually
explicit programming because, hey, they warned us.
So yes, I
was skeptical. But I've known Tom for a long time and I give great deference
to his business instincts. So I paid a visit to the TiVo offices in
Alviso, California to learn more about KidZone. And I was very impressed
with what I saw.
KidZone, parents will be able to manage the media consumption of their
children in a way that reflects their values, not
Hollywood's values. I need to explain why this is so important.
As I stand
here today at this very moment a press conference is being held in
Washington DC announcing the release of the PTC's most recent study,
Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: A Content Analysis of Children's Television.
I have copies of that study here with me, and I encourage you to take
one. Our study addresses the content of over 400 hours of commercial
television programming produced for and marketed directly to young
children. Kids networks like Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Disney
Channel, and Saturday morning programs on the broadcast networks.
of our investigation shocked even us. Violence, bullying, name calling,
bathroom humor, and even sexual references are the over-arching themes
present in the landscape of contemporary children's television. And when
I say violence, I don't just mean the Wile E. Coyote dropping an Acme
anvil on the Road Runner' kind of violence. I mean realistic, graphic
violence, most of which airs without the proper TV Content Rating.
Echoing the words of Harvard Medical School's Dr. Michael Rich, who is
participating at our press conference in Washington today, remember that
children under the age of 8 years are developmentally incapable of
making a clear distinction between fantasy and reality.
This is a
critical mental health issue for our children.
KidZone, a parent has the ability to filter harmful and offensive
programs which, tragically, many networks are directly, overtly,
marketing to small children. With KidZone, a child can record and view
only material that a parent has determined meets their family standards.
And with KidZone, broadcasters cannot hide behind the sham that their
current content rating system truly is.
congratulate TiVo for developing this exciting new feature, and we look
forward to reviewing the final consumer product. Once we complete our
formal product review, we hope to present TiVo with the PTC's Seal of
Approval, to provide a reliable source of program information, and to
help them reach out to consumers who will want this product.