New PTC research finds TV violence rated inaccurately, allowing children greater access to graphic gun violence.
Ahead of the White House meeting on Thursday to discuss media violence, the Parents Television Council is urging the entertainment industry to stop marketing violence to children, pointing to PTC research that shows how the broadcast networks regularly market graphic gun violence to children every night.
New PTC research reviewing the November 2017 “sweeps” on primetime broadcast television found that every program containing graphic violence or gun violence was rated TV-PG or TV-14, and the “V” (for violence) content descriptor was absent on almost a quarter (24%) of the shows that contained violence. During this same study period, almost 61% of the episodes contained violence; and 39% contained violence and guns. Comparatively, research conducted by the PTC in 2013 during the month following Newtown found that on primetime broadcast TV shows, nearly half contained violence; and almost a third contained violence and guns – meaning that five years post-Newtown, TV violence has increased.
“As the White House and other leaders work to confront societal gun violence, we hope that they will demand meaningful change from the entertainment industry, which presents dress rehearsals for gun violence on TV, in the movies, and in violent video games,” said PTC President Tim Winter.
“It’s unacceptable for an industry that profits so heavily from gun violence to wring their hands of any responsibility for its products.
“As noted in research conducted by Annenberg, there are more PG-13 movies with gun violence than there are R-rated movies, suggesting to parents that the content is appropriate for children and encouraging more children to watch them.
“Every single broadcast TV network rate shows with graphic violence and gun violence as appropriate for children – clear evidence that the entertainment industry contributes to marketing a culture of violence to children. When the networks fail to include a ‘V’ descriptor to warn viewers of violence shows that the TV ratings, the content ratings system is even more deceptive. How can the industry expect parents to adequately protect their children from violent scenes when the networks do not rate their shows correctly, and when there is no public oversight of the content rating system itself?
“Given the thousands of research reports, spanning several decades, demonstrating the potential harm to children from violent media, we are calling on all television networks to rate graphic violence – particularly gun violence — with TV-MA (mature audiences only). That seems like a great, and fair, first step to help protect children from harmful content. Additionally, we are calling on the networks to give serious thought and consideration towards reducing the nightly portrayals of gun violence so as to not provide a dress rehearsal for real-life tragedy. And corporate advertisers must be held to account for the media dollars underwriting today’s toxic media environment.”
Read the PTC’s full report, “Violence, Gun Violence, and TV Content Ratings on Prime-Time Broadcast Television.”