In our most recent study, the Parents Television Council found that all but one of NBC’s dramas contain graphic violence, yet all are rated – by NBC itself -- as appropriate for 14-year-old children.
NBC has undergone a dramatic shift in programming over the last year, towards dramas with violence so graphic, gruesome, and gory that it should concern every parent. NBC’s violent dramas include Revolution, about armed bands roaming post-apocalypse America; firefighter drama Chicago Fire; supernatural thriller Grimm; cop drama Ironside; The Blacklist, a spy thriller which frequently features graphic torture; Law & Order: SVU, a program entirely about violent sex crimes and child molestation; and Hannibal, devoted to serial killer Hannibal Lecter. There is plenty of violence on other networks; but no other broadcast network has shown the amount of graphic violence as NBC.
In the wake of the tragic school shooting at Newtown, network representatives met with Vice President Joe Biden, and promised to be more responsible about violent content. Now we see the truth: by airing these ultra-violent shows, and rating them as appropriate for young teens, the networks have proven that the entertainment industry does not care about violence on TV.
While the increased violence and mis-rating of programs should definitely concern parents, it should also concern the entertainment industry, which tells parents to solely rely on the TV ratings system for accurate information. By assigning these programs a TV-14 rating, NBC is claiming that scenes showing a man’s body being cut in half, fungus-infested corpses, graphic torture with a knife, and severe beatings, are appropriate for children as young as 14. How can anyone believe such ratings are accurate?
The PTC’s evidence shows clearly that the TV ratings system needs to be completely overhauled. The networks are financially motivated not to give their shows a TV-MA rating for fear of losing advertisers -- yet the industry tells parents to rely on the ratings to make appropriate viewing choices for their families.
In order for the content ratings system to have any credibility whatsoever, it must be accurate, consistent, transparent and accountable to the public. It is long past time for the ratings system to be reformed so it serves the needs of parents and families. The PTC is committed to taking this fight to broadcasters, and using every means possible to force them to act responsibly…because our children are watching.