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Press Release

November 12, 2008

PTC Ranks the Broadcast TV Shows Children Watch Most


LOS ANGELES (November 12, 2008) – In its annual ranking of the 20 most popular prime time broadcast television shows among children ages 2-17 based on Nielsen Media Research data, the Parents Television Council™ found that reality and game shows continue to grow in popularity and are often the most family-friendly fare for children to watch. The PTC rated each of the Nielsen top 20 ranked shows with children ages 2-17 according to their suitability for that audience based on foul language, sexual content and violence, along with the overall themes of each program.

“Nielsen data reveals that children continue to be drawn to the plethora of game and reality shows on TV. For the most part, these shows trump their scripted counterparts in providing content that is suitable for the whole family. Programs like ‘American Idol’ on Fox and ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover: Home Edition’ continue to be some of the most watched shows by kids and most suitable programs on the air today. We applaud these networks for providing worthwhile family entertainment,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

“It’s impossible for the networks to ignore that reality shows centered on charity, talent, or just wholesome fun rather than ruthless competition, seem to win ratings-wise as well as with family audiences. Unfortunately, the networks are still failing to meet the demand for programs that the entire family can watch together; and scripted programs have all but disappeared from our list of recommended entertainment choices.

“With the growth of contest-driven shows, the networks appear to be pandering to a lower level by pushing the limits of what’s appropriate. Parents should be wary of new offerings such as Fox’s ‘Moment of Truth’ which incentivizes contestants to reveal salacious truths about their past that often devastate their friends and family members. Fox’s ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ is another example of a reality program that kids should avoid; the show is replete with foul language and abusive remarks directed at the aspiring chefs. Still, neither of these programs holds a candle to Fox’s ‘Family Guy.’ The animated series naturally attracts young viewers, but its storylines focus on everything from bestiality to pedophilia.

“The broadcast networks are fully aware of the positive returns that family-friendly programs provide, but they insist on pushing the limits at every turn. We encourage more family-friendly content and ask that networks use discretion in promoting and re-airing adult shows when children are most likely to be in the viewing audience. Advertisers also have a responsibility in ensuring the content they underwrite is a reflection of their corporate image,” Winter concluded.


Using its trademarked traffic-light ratings system, the PTC analyzed the 20 most popular primetime broadcast shows among children ages 2-17 according to Nielsen Media Research data for the entire 2007-2008 TV season. For this analysis, PTC included only the shows that are currently airing or will be returning to broadcast. The programs were ranked according to their suitability for young viewers. Each series was rated as suitable [green], questionably suitable [yellow], or not suitable [red] for young audiences, and then ranked individually from best to worst. PTC ratings are based on an objective quantitative and qualitative analysis of the frequency and explicitness of foul language, sexual content, and violence present in each series. The PTC also takes into consideration time slot, target audience, themes and plotlines of each program it rates.


The 2008 Parents Television Council Ratings of the Top 20 Most Popular Prime Time Broadcast TV Shows Watched by Children Ages 2-17:


Most Suitable

(Best to Worst)

Questionably Suitable

(Best to Worst)

Not Suitable

(Best to Worst)


1. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

ABC/8:00 p.m. ET Sundays


2.  Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Fox/8:00 p.m. ET Fridays

3.  Don’t Forget the Lyrics

Fox/9:00 p.m. ET Fridays


4. Deal or No Deal

NBC/8:00 p.m. ET Wednesdays and Fridays


5. NBC Sunday Night Football

NBC/8:00 p.m. ET Sundays


6. American Idol

Fox/Returning Spring ‘09


7. Dancing with the Stars

ABC/8:00 p.m. ET Mondays, 9:00 p.m. ET Tuesdays


8. So You Think You Can Dance

Fox/Returning Spring ‘09


9. America's Got Talent

NBC/Returning Summer '09


10. Amazing Race

CBS/8:00 p.m. ET Sundays


11. Survivor

CBS/8:00 p.m. ET Thursdays


12. King of the Hill

Fox/8:30 p.m. ET Sundays


13. The Simpsons

Fox/8:00 p.m. ET Sundays


14. American Gladiator

NBC/Returning Summer '09



15. Hell's Kitchen

Fox/Returning Spring '09


16. House

Fox/8:00 p.m. ET Tuesdays


17. Heroes

NBC/9:00 p.m. ET Mondays


18. Moment of Truth

Fox/Returning Spring '09


19. American Dad

Fox/9:30 p.m. ET Sundays


20. Family Guy

Fox/9:00 p.m. ET Sundays




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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