New PTC Study Finds TV Content Ratings Need Reform

Written by PTC | Published April 4, 2016

RRchildren The PTC’s newest study examines the twenty-year history of the TV content ratings system – and finds failures that make the system inadequate to protect children...and which reflect an inherent conflict of interest. In a new study analyzing the past 20 years of the TV content ratings system, the Parents Television Council has found widespread, systemic problems that render the system inadequate for protecting children from graphic sex, violence, and profanity on television. The PTC’s study found that:
  • Regularly-scheduled series rated TV-G (appropriate for all audiences) have been eliminated from prime time. In all practicality, family shows rated for all audiences do not exist;
  • There are fewer programs on prime-time broadcast television rated TV-PG;
  • For example, from 1997 to 2014, there was a 38% decrease in the number of hours networks aired TV-PG programming during prime time, thus significantly reducing viewing options for families.
  • There are fewer differences between the content of programs rated TV-PG and those rated TV-14;
  • Graphic content on television is increasing in both amount and intensity; yet
  • All content on broadcast television is rated as appropriate for a 14-year-old child. Despite containing explicit content, no continuing program on broadcast television is rated TV-MA, appropriate for mature audiences only.
The TV networks claim that they have provided families with tools, such as the V-Chip, descriptor indicators, and TV ratings, which allow parents to protect their children by blocking harmful or unwanted programming. But parents, mental health professionals, national surveys, and scientific research all agree that these tools are not effective in protecting children. The TV content ratings system is administered by the very businesses it is supposed to be regulating: TV networks. The same companies that create media content rate the content, and they run the board which oversees the ratings process. This is a conflict of interest which would never be tolerated in any other regulatory body. TV Content Ratings StudyA vast body of scientific, psychological, and medical research demonstrates that exposure to graphic violence and explicit sex is harmful to children. Twenty years after its creation, the TV content ratings systemis failing to accurately inform parents about the content of television programming, or to aid them in restricting viewing of graphic violence, explicit sex, profanity and other adult content. Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, public health advocates, and most of all, parents, must insist upon a television content ratings system that is accurate, consistent, transparent, and accountable to the public – and which meets the needs of those it was intended to serve. To read the study, click here. To learn more about Ratings Reform, click here.

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