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Press Release

March 4, 2008

PTC and Child Health Advocates Condemn CBS for Ultra-Violent TV Content

More Children Watching CBS’ Serial Killer Show “Dexter”; CBS to Air Violent Martial Arts Show


LOS ANGELES (March 4, 2008) – The Parents Television Council™ and child health advocates condemned CBS for its ultra-violent television shows.  Nielsen Media Research data shows that the number of children watching CBS’ serial killer show, Dexter, has increased by a third from the premiere episode to the second week.  And CBS recently announced that it would air MMA, mixed martial arts known as “cage fighting,” on its network this year.  A CBS executive said that the network would not tone down the violence on MMA for network use.


Although total Dexter viewership fell by 23% from week one to two, the number of children under the age of 12 watching the show rose by a third, from 156,000 the first week to 206,000 the second, according to Nielsen Media Research.  By airing Dexter on CBS, nearly 470% more children ages 2-17 have been exposed to the gruesome series as compared to when it aired on Showtime.


“CBS started its violent streak with the CSI franchise, then moved on to Dexter, and now is planning to air the Showtime series MMA, which indicates that the network has developed a penchant for graphically violent themes.  The number of children watching Dexter is shockingly high.  It is apparent that CBS cares nothing for the children it is influencing.  CBS’ claims that it is only targeting adults with Dexter are utterly false.  It appears that CBS is making decisions based not on audience demand or what is best for America’s families, but on what is best for its sister network Showtime’s coffers,” said PTC President Tim Winter.


“Despite national outrage over CBS’ decision to air Dexter, the network has yet to pull the series, even though it clearly isn’t drawing much of an audience.  In the past, CBS has been swift to cancel family-friendly shows like the popular Joan of Arcadia, which had a 30% higher rating and audience share than Dexter has to date.  When Joan was pulled from the schedule, CBS Chairman Leslie Moonves was even quoted as saying, ‘I think talking to ghosts [The Ghost Whisperer – which took Joan’s place on the CBS schedule] may skew younger than talking to God.’  How young do serial killers skew, Mr. Moonves?


“CBS shows no regard for children, instead it barrages impressionable youngsters with negative and corrupting influences.  Last year the PTC showed CBS to be one of the most violent networks in its study ‘Dying to Entertain.’  If CBS continues on its current trajectory, it will quickly surpass any other network for primetime violence,” Winter said.


The child health advocates have spoken out about the harm that Dexter could cause to children.  “I think the program Dexter contains all the elements of violence that would make it particularly detrimental for children to watch.  The violence is perpetrated by someone who is portrayed as a hero doing good for society.  The violence is graphic, explicit, and brutal.  The hero shows no remorse or concern about his violence.  The hero is rewarded for his violent behavior.  All of these factors are likely to maximize the influence it would have in stimulating violent behavior in the children and adolescents who watch the program regularly.  Parents should not allow children or adolescents to watch it.  CBS should not present it at a time when children are likely to see it, and CBS should not promote it for children and adolescents,” said L. Rowell Huesmann, Amos N. Tversky Collegiate Professor of Communication Studies & Psychology and Director, Research Center for Group Dynamics at the Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.


“The kids who gave us Jonesboro in the middle school and Columbine in the high school are now giving us Virginia Tech in the college.  These killers shared one common trait: an obsession with media violence…And now we have come to a new low, with a serial killer as the 'hero' on the public airwaves.  It is time to take back the airwaves, and to throw out the wretched people and corporations who have turned our airwaves into a moral sewer,” said Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill, commenting about the airing of Dexter on CBS.


TAKE ACTION NOW! Urge The Sponsors to Reconsider Their Support for Violent Content

TAKE ACTION! Help Us Stop Future Airings of Dexter.


To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, please contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Megan Franko (ext. 148) at (703) 683-5004.

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 more than 1.3 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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