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Press Release

Protecting Children or Protecting Hollywood?

New PTC 20-Year Report of TV Content Ratings System Finds Systemic Failures and Inherent Conflict of Interest

By: Kelly Oliver

Release Date: 4/4/2016

LOS ANGELES (April 4, 2016) – 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. A vast body of scientific, psychological, and medical research demonstrates that exposure to graphic violence and explicit sex is harmful to children.

“Parents who rely on the TV Content Ratings System to make informed decisions about what to watch on television have been deceived, as our new research shows that the ratings system has systemically failed to provide accurate and consistent information for its entire 20-year existence,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

The PTC’s study found:

  • 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;
  • 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
  • Every hour of content on broadcast television is rated as appropriate for a 14-year-old child, or even younger ages. Despite containing explicit content, no continuing program on broadcast television is rated TV-MA, appropriate for mature audiences only.
The implications in our report are enormous and should give the TV industry significant pause. The industry should have to answer as to why TV-G rated primetime series are extinct; why the lines between TV-PG and TV-14 shows are blurred; why more adult content is being shown on TV-PG shows; why nudity and violence are increasing on broadcast TV overall,” Winter said.

“One reason for the problem is that the TV networks rate their own shows, creating an inherent conflict of interest. You don’t see any TV-MA rated (the highest adult TV rating) shows on broadcast TV. It’s not that some of the shows don’t warrant the MA rating, it’s that the networks are financially motivated not to rate programs properly because most corporate sponsors won’t advertise on MA-rated programs.

“Another conflict of interest is that the TV networks run the board that oversees the ratings process. That board, the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, has enabled and sheltered this flawed ratings system rather than follow its FCC-sanctioned mandate to monitor the system and improve upon it where necessary. For years, we have addressed our concerns to the Board but to no real avail.

“Congress, the FCC, public health advocates, and parents must insist that the TV Content Ratings System be accountable to the public and meet the needs of the parents and families it was intended to serve. Parents must be alerted to potentially harmful TV content, and the ratings system, which the V-chip utilizes to block unwanted content, can only work if the ratings are accurate. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the ratings system’s creation, it is time for the system to be accurate, consistent, transparent, and accountable to the public.”

For more information and to read the full study, visit www.ParentsTV.org/RR.

The Parents Television Council® (www.parentstv.org) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media.

This national grassroots organization has more than 1.4 million members, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children.

The PTC™ also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.

Visit the new PTC Watchdog Blog at www.parentstv.org/blog.

Follow the PTC on Twitter: @ThePTC.
 
Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ptcusa.

To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, please contact Kelly Oliver at (703) 307-9404 or email at kelly@kellyoliverpr.com.