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Father's Day Special Report

PTC Finds More TV Fathers are Involved in TV Family Life

Network television is increasing the visibility of father-figures in prime time television according to a recent study of the 2004-2005 television season by the Parents Television Council.

The study, the third of its kind, found that 86.5% of all TV children have a father figure involved in their lives, but an increasing number of single dads are raising their children.

The PTC reviewed every original series airing during prime time (8:00-11:00pm ET/PT) on the broadcast networks during the 2004-2005 television season. The analysis encompassed 106 shows depicting 195 children. The last study on TV father figures was conducted for the 2002-2003 television season. The key findings about TV children and the roles include:

  • 86.5% have a father figure involved in their lives (up 3.6%)

  • 50% live in a traditional family, with their married biological parents (down 2.8%)

  • 14.8% are being raised by single fathers (up 10.7%)

  • 13.8% do not live with any kind of father figure (down 13%)

  • 12.9% do not have an involved father figure (down 3.4%)

As a whole, television shows are increasingly showing more fathers who are involved in their children's lives. This study is not a qualitative look at the types of fathers portrayed by network television; rather it is a quantitative look at the number of fathers and father-figures portrayed during the prime time hours on the seven broadcast networks: ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, UPN, ITV and WB.

The PTC studies the presence of fathers on prime time television because of the proven importance of fathers in the lives of their children. According to the National Fatherhood Initiative (NFI):

  • Fathers who live with their children are more likely to have a close, enduring relationship with their children than those who do not. The best predictor of father presence is marital status. Compared to children born within marriage, children born to cohabiting parents are three times as likely to experience father absence, and children born to unmarried, non-cohabiting parents are four times as likely to live in a father-absent home.

  • About 40 percent of children in father-absent homes have not seen their father at all during the past year; 26 percent of absent fathers live in a different state than their children; and 50 percent of children living absent their father have never set foot in their father's home.

  • Twenty-four million children (34 percent) live absent their biological father. Children who live absent their biological fathers are, on average, at least two to three times more likely to be poor, to use drugs, to experience educational, health, emotional and behavioral problems, to be victims of child abuse, and to engage in criminal behavior than their peers who live with their married, biological (or adoptive) parents.

  • Children with involved, loving fathers are significantly more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior, and avoid high-risk behaviors such as drug use, truancy, and criminal activity compared to children who have uninvolved fathers.

  • While the presence of father-figures on prime time network television has increased over the years, it is not accurately reflecting current trends in American culture. According to U.S. Census data collected in 2003 and provided by the NFI, the number of children living in two-parent families is 68.4%. Children being raised by single fathers measures 4.6% and children being raised by single mothers measures 23%.

"These (PTC) findings reinforce the importance of not only developing programming suitable for all families, but producers endeavoring to show committed, responsible fathers involved in their children's lives. Too many TV shows today tag fathers with the 3D' image - dumb, dangerous and disaffected. Such images must be reversed to demonstrate to viewers that fathers are there for their children and/or need to be," said Roland Warren, president of the National Fatherhood Initiative.

The PTC applauds the increase of the presence of father-figures on prime time network television and encourages the industry to continue the positive trend while insuring that the role and importance of fathers is not diminished.

2005 Fathers Day Special Report

The Parents Television Council - www.parentstv.org

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