The latest report from the Parents Television Council “Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter,” documents shocking levels of adult content on networks with the highest-rated primetime animated cable shows among children ages 12-17, according to Nielsen data. The networks included in the study reflect where kids are consuming the most popular animated shows during primetime: Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nick at Nite.
“Nielsen data told us
where children ages 12-17 are watching animated programming on basic cable. PTC
analysts followed the Nielsen data in order to see exactly what type of material
kids are consuming. The findings of this report should be vexing for every
parent. The term ‘adult’ not only describes the nature of the cartoon content
itself; it also describes the products being marketed to kids,” said PTC
President Tim Winter.
“Adult content isn’t just creeping into the cartoons that
kids today are watching the most; it has overtaken much of that animated
programming. We’re not talking about cartoon characters slipping on banana peels
and ramming into doors. Our data demonstrates that today’s norm is
profanity-laden storylines involving everything from rape and cocaine to STDs
and crystal meth. There is now more sexual content on these cartoons than
violence – even when counting traditional ‘light’ cartoon violence.
“Parents might not be surprised that there is an abundance
of adult-themed content on a cable network called Adult Swim; but those same
parents are likely to be very surprised at just how adult the content is and how
often teens and pre-teens are flocking to the network. Many don’t even realize
Adult Swim appears on the same channel as the decidedly kid-centric Cartoon
Network and begins airing at 9:00 pm Eastern/8:00 pm Central.
“Just as shocking as the volume and degree of adult
material in the cartoons was the abysmal network failure rate in applying
consistent TV content rating standards. During the study period, harsh profanity
and graphic sexual depictions aired during programs rated TV-PG. Cartoon Network
failed to use the ratings system to warn parents about sexual content,
suggestive dialogue and explicit language 100 percent of the time. We also
discovered the networks are directly marketing adult entertainment products to
kids during TV-PG programming, including R-rated movies and TV-MA shows and
DVDs,” Winter continued.
“Parents need to understand just how explicit these cartoons are so they can
make better viewing decisions for their family. They also must be given the
chance to unsubscribe to explicit cable networks. As it stands now, every parent
who subscribes to cable so their kids can watch Disney or Nickelodeon is also
forking over cash every month to Adult Swim. Parents, not cable companies,
should decide which cable networks they want to pay for.
“In addition to cable choice and more responsible
programming decisions by the networks, the entire television content ratings
system needs to be overhauled. The current system fails parents and families
when it comes to accuracy, consistency, transparency and accountability,” Winter