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Press Release

November 9, 2010


A Habitat for Profanity: PTC Offers a Five-Year Comparison of Foul Language on TV

Harshness and Frequency of Profanity on the Rise 

LOS ANGELES (November 9, 2010) – The Parents Television Council™ has documented a sharp rise in the frequency and harshness of profanity being used on prime-time broadcast television in a special comparative analysis of the fall 2010 and 2005 seasons. The PTC’s report entitled “Habitat for Profanity: Broadcast TV’s Sharp Increase in Foul Language” documents a 69.3 percent increase in just the past five years. The greatest increase in harsh profanity occurred during the 8:00 pm ET slot traditionally known as the family hour and the 9:00 pm ET hour. Click here to view the full analysis.

“After the Second Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the FCC’s congressionally-mandated authority to enforce the broadcast decency law, industry and media pundits predicted a sharp increase in the amount of profanity on television. Sadly, they were correct,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

“Our analysis of the first two weeks of this still-new fall television season shows a disturbing trend that shocked even us. Profanity is far more frequent and the profanity itself is far harsher than just five years ago. Even worse, the most egregious language is being aired during the timeslots when children are most likely to be in the audience. In 2010, 111 f-words were used during family hour compared with 10 in 2005.

“Is this a coincidence? Is it an aberration? Or is this exactly the path that broadcasters and the ‘creative community’ in Hollywood set out when they began launching their legal attacks against the broadcast decency law?

“While broadcasters continue to claim that they can regulate themselves, this type of increase in profane words aired on scripted programming - not on live broadcasts that are the subject of ongoing judicial review – suggests otherwise. Are we to expect a 69 percent increase in TV profanity every five years?

“Regardless of what the courts decide, it’s time for broadcasters to set parameters and publicly explain their broadcast standards. Advertisers must also ensure that the language they help bring into our living rooms is consistent with their hard-earned corporate brands.

“The public airwaves should offer a banquet for all. But increasingly, the broadcast networks are telling American families to swallow whatever they’re fed or starve. Those families are currently relegated to eating scraps at the table they themselves own,” Winter concluded.

The Parents Television Council examined all prime-time entertainment programs on the major television networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, UPN and the WB in 2005, and ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and the CW in 2010) during the first full two weeks of the fall television premiere season, for a total number of 124 programming hours in 2005 and 128 programming hours in 2010.

Major Findings:
• Across all networks, use of profanity on prime-time broadcast entertainment programming increased 69.3% from 2005 to 2010.
• Use of the bleeped or muted f-words increased from 11 instances total in 2005 to 276 instances in 2010 – an increase of 2409%.
• Use of the bleeped or muted s-word increased from 11 instances in 2005 to 95 instances in 2010 – an increase of 763%.
• During the family hour, instances of the f-word increased from 10 in 2005 to 111 in 2010. Use of the s-word during the family hour increased from 11 instances in 2005 to 42 in 2010.
• The Fox broadcast network showed the greatest per hour increase in use of profanity from 2005 to 2010 with a 269% increase across all prime-time hours.

View additional major findings and the full analysis at www.parentstv.org/profanity.


To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, please contact Megan Franko at (703) 859-5054 or Liz Krieger at (703) 683-5004 ext. 120.

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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