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Press Release

October 28, 2009


Women in Peril: PTC Report Finds Increase in Violence Against Females on Television


LOS ANGELES (October 28, 2009) – In a new special report, the Parents Television Council® found that storylines depicting violence against females are increasing and being shown more graphically and in ways that have not been seen in the history of television.


The PTC’s report, Women in Peril: A Look at TV’s Disturbing New Storyline Trend, examined fatal and nonfatal female victimizations on prime time broadcast television and found that there was a significant increase in all forms of female victimization storylines; an increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims; an increase in the use of female victimization as a punch line in comedy series; and an increase in the depiction of intimate partner violence.


“Our new research points to a disturbing trend: by depicting violence against women with increasing frequency, or as a trivial, even humorous matter, the broadcast networks may ultimately be contributing to a desensitized atmosphere in which people view aggression and violence directed at women as normative, even acceptable,” said PTC President Tim Winter.


“Just last week, actresses like Nicole Kidman testified before the Congress that Hollywood probably has contributed to violence against women by portraying them as weak sex objects.  We all must pay attention to the fact that this is a problem in our society.  The fact is that children are influenced by what they see on TV and that certainly includes media violence,” said PTC Director of Communications and Public Education Melissa Henson. 


The study compares the qualitative and quantitative differences in the treatments of violence against women on prime time broadcast television between 2004 and 2009.  PTC analysts examined all primetime programming (excluding sports and news programs) on the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC)* during the February and May 2004 and 2009 sweeps periods for a total of 209.5 hours of programming.


Major Findings


  1. Incidents of violence against women and teenage girls are increasing on television at rates that far exceed the overall increases in violence on television.  Violence, irrespective of gender, on television increased only 2% from 2004 to 2009, while incidents of violence against women increased 120% during that same period.

  • The most frequent type of violence against women on television was beating (29%), followed by credible threats of violence (18%), shooting (11%), rape (8%), stabbing (6%), and torture (2%).  Violence against women resulted in death 19% of the time.

  • Violence towards women or the graphic consequences of violence tends overwhelmingly to be depicted (92%) rather than implied (5%) or described (3%).

  1. Every network but ABC demonstrated a significant increase in the number of storylines that included violence against women between 2004 and 2009.


  1. Although female victims were primarily of adult age, collectively, there was a 400% increase in the depiction of teen girls as victims across all networks from 2004 to 2009.


  1. Fox stood out for using violence against women as a punch line in its comedies -- in particular Family Guy and American Dad -- trivializing the gravity of the issue of violence against women.


  1. From 2004 to 2009 there was an 81% increase in incidences of intimate partner violence on television.


“Our study today serves as a clarion call to all Americans about a critical issue with dire consequences.  We are calling on television producers and network executives, members of the advertising community, elected representatives and appointed government officials, and most importantly, the viewing public, to stand up against this disturbing trend.  In a country where more than 60% of children have been exposed to violence in their daily lives, according to recent research by Justice Department, we must take the utmost care not to normalize violent behavior – especially violence against women – through our television programming,” Winter added.


To read at the full report and view video clips from the study, visit:



*CW and MyNetworkTV did not exist in 2004.


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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