• TV Content Ratings Need Reform!

    by  • September 30, 2015 • Broadcast Decency, Cable Choice, Misrated, Ratings Reform • 3 Comments


    Recently, the PTC has been urging the public to view clips from TV programs, then vote on what TV content rating they think the program received. The result has been an outpouring of support for Ratings Reform.

    Since 1996, every episode of every television program has been required to carry a content rating, both to alert parents to program content and aid them in making viewing decisions for themselves and their children, and to trigger the V-Chip, which can be programmed to block all shows with a given rating.

    The problem? The show’s ratings are assigned by the same networks who benefit from getting as many people as possible to watch them. Recently, the PTC has been demonstrating the inaccuracy of the ratings by urging the pubpc to view clips from programs, then vote on what they think that episode was rated.

    Thousands of people took our first “ratings quiz” – and nearly all were astonished to learn that even the most extreme violence and sexual content was rated as being appropriate for 14 year old viewers.

    In addition, many respondees commented on the ratings system and the programming they saw.

    We didn’t solicit these comments; viewers freely offered them.

    Here’s a sample of what fellow TV viewers said, after seeing how inaccurate the current TV content ratings system is:

    • Who is making these decisions? A lot of the stuff rated PG-14, I wouldn’t want my 14 year old watching!

    • TV ratings are beyond out of line! I don’t want my children exposed to this kind of offensive content!

    • Totally unacceptable!

    • Truthful ratings about sexual and violent content are desperately needed to help people discern viewing options and protect the children and adult viewers.

    • TV Content Ratings are PAST due for serious reform!

    • TV has become so trashy. It is a shame that we have to censor stuff ourselves. Correct and accurate ratings would fix this. Tougher rating standards are what we need.

    • TV is disgusting today!!!

    • The TV ratings system is a major failure. Shame on Hollywood!

    • Unbelievable. Those in charge have no moral compass whatsoever.

    • Personally, I think this type of programming is unsuitable even for adults. How many adults are struggling in their relationships or with addition to sex/pornography? Unfortunately, what we see here is what the majority of the viewing audience has been taught to believe is acceptable. The “almighty dollar” has a voice much louder than it should in our present-day culture. We have control over which products we purchase. When a company sponsors this type of programming and their bottom line suffers, then we will start to see some changes.

    • Unreal that most of these are rated appropriate for children!

    • Wake up, folks. There is so much violence in the world….let’s keep it away from the young. Get porno films if you want to see people naked. Not on TV.

    • We’d be better off without any ratings at all, than to have these giving the impression that the content is appropriate.

    • I am close to pitching the TV in our home completely. Programming cannot be trusted and most is not family-friendly.

    • I’m sick of this kind of garbage coming into my home through basic cable. We should be able to CHOOSE our channels when we subscribe to our service, instead of bundling these trash channels with others we want.

    • We can’t stop the networks from putting trash on TV, but they can help make TV safer for families to watch if they would start accurately rating the content. As it is, we hardly watch TV anymore because you can’t trust the ratings.

    • Who needs TV shows like this? We must get back to more family shows.

    • We need decent TV. We need to preserve the innocence of our youth.

    • We used to be able to say “unbelievable!”, but no longer. Hollywood & TV are totally depraved.

    • I watch a lot of sports and I have noticed that the commercials for upcoming shows or movies provide content that is not suitable. They do it during the games because they have your attention and more eyes will see it.

    • We wonder why our great nation is heading toward the trash basket and this is one of the main reasons. TV wants to compete with cable and movies, all for the sake of making an extra buck.

    • We would never watch these shows. In fact there are very few shows we do watch nowadays. We will boycott any business that advertises on these shows!

    • While I am not surprised by the ratings of the clips, I was pretty shocked by the content. That’s why I watch very little TV, except for HGTV and football.

    • What a sad, sad state of our society today. This is why I no longer have cable.

    • What a waste of time and money producing any of these shows!

    • This “rating system” is absolutely worthless!

    • What can you expect when you have trashy people rating trash?

    • Whatever happened to good family movies? I do not even watch the filth that so many of the networks are showing.

    • Another major concern is the content of “adult” cartoons that target children: South Park, Family Guy, American Dad.

    • What kind of world are we creating when we expose children to any of these?

    • Whatever happened to protecting the innocence of children and young adults? We can do so much better than this!

    • When I see the awful, immoral junk on TV I can understand how the awful things are happening nowadays in society. Children and adults become hardened to real effects of this garbage and copy it in real life.

    • Where are our morals these days? Better still, where are the morals of the “entertainment” industry?

    • Who even watches this tripe?

    • Whoever rates these needs to have their own kids watch the shows and then rate them.

    • Who is rating these programs? This is madness.

    • X-rated content when I was growing up is now called “TV-14.” Disgusting!

    • You have got to be kidding me! Who is in charge of rating these shows? Penthouse or Hustler magazine editors? This filth is rated for kids to see? Something’s got to change! Rating reforms now!!!

    • TV writers can do better. Juvenile jokes and scenarios are easy. Challenge yourselves to come up with something that has an interesting plot without nudity, vulgar language, and violence!

    If you agree with the sentiments expressed above, sign our petition pressing for greater responsibility from the entertainment industry.




    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    3 Responses to TV Content Ratings Need Reform!

    1. Robert
      October 5, 2015 at 3:17 pm

      I too would be careful what you wish for. With ratings reform, I have a feeling networks would just push the boundaries even more. Network TV does show restraint in comparisson to cable often (leaving out “god-” expletives among others) with this system that they may not once the system gets “reformed.”

    2. Al
      October 4, 2015 at 10:10 am

      I often have issues with the PTC and its advocation of what I call the “Barneyfication” of TV. HOWEVER, on this topic I actually agree that the TV ratings system needs to be reformed. It’s a repeat of what happened with the MPAA in the mid-1980s when they came out with the PG-13 rating because of PG pushing the envelope beyond its original remit. And NC-17 (though ultimately a failure commercially) was also intended for R-rated films that pushed beyond the original remit of R but could no longer be rated X because X had been co-opted by the hardcore porn industry. I think there probably should be a TV-17 rating in the US that should be applied to mainstream network shows. Because there is still quite a difference (at least for now…) between what can be shown on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, and CW and cable/streaming shows rated MA. It may well change in the future, but for now you still don’t see the same level of graphic sex and nudity you see on cable and streaming (everyone has different tolerances but trust me if you haven’t watched a show like Orange is the New Black or Outlander or Girls the sexual content seen on Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder, etc is still very very minor in comparison). I have yet to see anything on a TV-14 show that would warrant an MA rating. But I do think there is call for a TV-17 stopgap. And I say 17 because that’s the same threshold currently used for the R-rating. That said, be careful what you wish for. It is in part due to the existence of TV 14 and MA that shows take leave to push the envelope of sex, language and violence. So a TV-17 rating (or whatever they come up with) could end up allowing shows like HTGAWW to get away with a lot more than they do now. Because keep in mind what is being suggested here is not that much different than the watershed rules on UK TV which basically allow BBC, Channel 4, etc to get away with murder after 9 PM (up to an including showing hardcore if it’s a documentary). At least right now TV-14 actually does set some level of limitation as it’s clear the mainstream networks don’t want to air MA-rated programming (if they did there wouldn’t have been two versions of Aquarius made – one TV-14, one MA).

    3. moax429
      October 2, 2015 at 1:12 pm

      Glad I recently donated to the PTC’s campaign for this cause. I always knew the MPAA (motion picture industry)’s ratings system was – and still *is* – a farce, and when the TV ratings were created 18 years ago they were going to follow suit.

      *Please,* PTC – continue to expose this “system” for the sham it *really* is (and then take on the MPAA’s next)! Thanks again for everything you do!

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