FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2012
LOS ANGELES (September 19th, 2012) –
Parents Television Council®
released a new study, "What Kids Can See When It’s Rated TV-PG,"
which examined the type and amount of explicit content in TV-PG
rated shows that aired during primetime within a two-week period in
2011. This is the sixth installment in PTC’s series of studies
taking a look at current TV ratings system.
PTC found that in many instances the
ratings were inadequate and failed to reflect the type or amount of
adult-themed content within the show; programs were frequently
underrated exposing children to explicit content without warning;
and sexual content, language, and violence consistently appeared
across all networks on TV-PG rated programs.
"For years the broadcast industry and
their agents have touted the V-Chip and the content ratings system
as the public’s remedy for harmful, offensive and explicit
programming. The findings of today’s report suggest that the
industry ‘remedy’ is a failure. Even the most diligent parent who
only allows TV-PG rated content into their home would be exposing
their children unwittingly to a torrent of sex, violence and
profanity on a nightly basis," said PTC President Tim Winter.
"As we approach the fifteen year
anniversary of the ratings system, it is apparent that the system
itself is in need of dramatic reform. Broadcast networks produce and
rate their own content, leaving parents with a deeply flawed and
largely inaccurate ratings system. An accurate and accountable
system would steer informed families and many advertisers away from
harsh content, costing the networks a material loss in revenue. This
is a clear conflict of interest, and it further emphasizes that the
V-chip is not a reasonable alternative to broadcast decency rules
that were recently upheld by the Supreme Court.
"The TV Ratings Monitoring Board, which
ostensibly provides oversight for the ratings system, lacks any
modicum of transparency or accountability. The public is afforded no
reasonable means by which to contest a show’s content rating if they
feel it’s inaccurate. Such a system protects the broadcasters, not
parents, families or children.
"With the release of our findings today,
we are calling on the Congress, the FCC and the television industry
to address the failures of the content ratings system; and to
replace it with a system that is accurate, consistent, transparent
and accountable," concluded Winter.
Following the release of the study, PTC
sent letters to all Members of Congress asking for total reform of
the system. The following is an excerpt:
"After fifteen years of a poorly
conceived, poorly executed, poorly overseen system, it is time to
give American families more tools and more choices to contain the
flow of objectionable entertainment content entering their homes.
How many other fifteen-year-old pieces of technology do homes have
that have not been improved upon since their implementation?
"Based on the findings of this report as
well as numerous others, the television content rating system is in
urgent need of substantial reform. In addition to concerns about
accuracy, this report raises serious questions about cross-network
consistency. We call upon the television industry, the FCC, and
Congress to immediately begin review of the order that implemented
the current TV Ratings System. And we call for the system to
increase its transparency and accountability to the public.
To see the full study,
To see the letter,
PTC examined all primetime entertainment programming on the four
major broadcast networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox) during the first
two weeks of the November 2011 sweeps period. Broadcasts of news and
sports programs were excluded from this analysis. The entire dataset
was captured within three major categories of variables: 1) Sex; 2)
Language; and 3) Violence. Specific variables were assigned within
each major category to further describe the content
In only a two-week period (59 hours) of
analyzed TV-PG rated shows, there were a total of 637 instances of
explicit language, sex, and violent content that aired during
primetime. In other words, a child watching TV-PG programs would
have been exposed to explicit adult content every five -and-a-half
The data show that a child watching
TV-PG programming within a two-week period would have witnessed
181 instances of adult sexual content, 239 instances of offensive
language, and 217 instances of violence.
Forty-four percent of the instances of
explicit content did not include a "D," "L," "S," or "V"
descriptor alerting parents the content was present; ninety-two
percent of the adult sexual content aired on TV-PG shows did not
include an "S" descriptor.
Sixty-seven percent of the explicit
sexual content identified during the study period included: direct
references to sexual body parts (e.g. vagina, penis, etc.), verbal
statements that included the word "sex," descriptions and/or
depictions of sexual activity, and/or some form of nudity
(obscured/blurred, partial or implied).
Out of 217 instances of violence, 11.5%
rose to the level of mutilation, dismemberment, decapitation,
violent drugging, animal abuse, animal violence, blood-shedding,
electrocution, graphic depictions, and graphic descriptions.
To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council,
please contact Liz Krieger at (703) 683-5004 ext. 120
or Katie Glenn at (703) 683-5004, ext. 144.
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.