We all know that TV impacts the culture, and in turn, our children. TV has proven that it can be a positive force for good. Think of the ground covered in promoting positive, strong female characters on TV and in other entertainment just over the past year. (Hello, Supergirl!)
Anti-smoking campaigns have seen positive results from working with Hollywood execs to limit smoking on TV and in films. Other stories report about how increasing positive portrayals of minorities on TV shows helps to influence society for the better. Certainly, if a cause wants positive attention, turning to the world of entertainment to assist in that endeavor seems smart – because TV influences people.
Yet, the entertainment industry doesn’t want to focus on the bad or harmful content it produces.
That’s where the Parents Television Council comes in: someone has to hold the industry accountable in order to protect children from the toxic media content that’s produced and to help parents make informed decisions about what’s being marketed towards their children.
Here are a few highlights from the PTC’s work towards creating a safer media environment for children in 2015:
- PTC worked to warn advertisers about TV content featuring extreme sexual content or themes, graphic violence, or profane language. The PTC spoke out against WE tv’s Sex Box, A&E’s Neighbors with Benefits, AMC’s The Bastard Executioner, ABC’s Wicked City, and NBC’s Hannibal, all of which were ultimately cancelled. Fox’s explicit animated cartoon, Golan the Insatiable, appears to have been pulled from the broadcast schedule. TLC’s Sex in Public debuted, but a second season hasn’t been scheduled.
- After many months of working directly with the FCC, including personal meetings with most of the Commissioners, the PTC welcomed the Commission’s fine of a CBS affiliate for violating the broadcast indecency law. The March 2015 enforcement action was the first in nearly eight years. The PTC commended the FCC for once again ensuring families are protected from indecent content during times of the day when children are likely to be watching.
- New PTC research revealed that sexually violent jokes against children were rampant on Fox’s Family Guy, one of the most-watched TV shows by children ages 12-17. The PTC called out McDonald’s for sponsoring 43 percent of the Family Guy episodes that made jokes about the sexual abuse of children.
- The proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which the PTC opposed, was called off. The merger would have led to more adult content on cable TV and less choice for families and consumers.
- Canada puts families and consumers first by ensuring cable customers are offered a way to choose and pay for only the cable networks they want, a.k.a. Cable Choice. The PTC urged the U.S. to follow suit.
- The PTC celebrated positive portrayals of TV moms from the last 20 years. Not to be left out, TV dads were lauded.
- With the PTC’s help, The Wall Street Journal noted a trend that watching TV as a family and, specifically, watching classic TV shows, can help strengthen family ties.
- The PTC warned parents about MTV’s Video Music Awards that featured host Miley Cyrus and called out the network for marketing the ever-increasing adult content – nudity, the celebration of illegal drugs, and blatant sexualization of women -- to kids.
- Comedienne and Actress Amy Schumer joined Sen. Chuck Schumer in denouncing the spate of tragic, mass shootings in America, particularly the recent theater shooting in Louisiana where her motion picture was being exhibited. The PTC praised Ms. Schumer for addressing this issue, and urged her to join PTC efforts in combating another contributing force: graphic media violence.
- The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal both reported on the PTC’s concerns over the news that first-run episodes of the iconic classic children’s TV show, Sesame Street, will now be found on HBO, home to extremely explicit fare.
- More cracks surface in the Pay-TV model because of more consumers choosing to cut the cord. PTC President Tim Winter wrote in the Washington Times that consumers “all would benefit from a more flexible, consumer-driven, unbundled video ecosystem that allows each of us to pay for what we want, rather than pay a ransom to watch what we don’t.”
- USA Network showed a man committing suicide with a gun during the “Mr. Robot” season finale, rated the graphic scene as appropriate for kids, and aired this during National Suicide Prevention Month. The PTC urged USA Network to review how it rates its own TV shows, so that kids won’t have access to this kind of graphic content.
- A new PTC analysis revealed that ABC’s, The Muppets, exposed the millions of children watching to adult content – sexual content, alcohol use - every 3 minutes. Shortly afterward, ABC promised a new direction for the show in 2016.
- The PTC called for the FX Network to be moved to the premium cable tier, along with HBO, Cinemax, and Showtime, so that families do not have to subsidize shows like American Horror Story, which showed children killing adults and then drinking the blood of their victims, among other violent and sexual content.
- Ahead of the holiday shopping season, the PTC announced the companies chosen for its annual Best/Worst TV Advertisers List. Rewarding companies who support families by sponsoring more positive and wholesome TV programming can change the TV culture for the better. A new study by Ohio State researchers found that sex in advertisements actually doesn’t sell, after all.
Want to join the PTC’s efforts to impact the entertainment culture and protect children in 2016? We’d love to have you. Join us at www.ParentsTV.org.
- On the heels of the highly rated special broadcast of NBC’s The Wiz Live!, the PTC renewed its call on broadcasters to program for families throughout the year and not only during the holidays. According to new PTC data, there were 11.5 fewer hours of TV-PG primetime broadcast programming during a two-week study period in 2014 than in 2011, representing an almost 20 percent decrease.