(Language taken directly from
The V-Chip Education Project's "Parents Guide to the TV Ratings and
For more information, visit
You should also know
"The age-based ratings system for television is a failure. There
is no inter-network consistency in the ratings. Worse, there is not even
intra-network consistency. In short, the age-based system, which the television
industry promised would help inform and assist parents in choosing appropriate
shows for their children, is making such a determination more confusing
than ever before.
"In spite of widespread viewer displeasure
with foul-mouthed, sexually-oriented television programming, the networks
have not reduced the amount of objectionable content. Instead, they adopted
a ratings system that supposedly would help parents steer their children
away from raunchy or otherwise adult fare. The original system, implemented
in January 1997, included only age-based ratings; after those were roundly
denounced as vague and ineffective, content ratings were added in October.
But the ratings system, even with its expanded, "improved" content
version, continues to fail. In practice, the ratings remain meaningless.
"Before the system took effect, some-including Parents Television
Council Founder and President, Brent Bozell-publicly predicted that the
ratings system would backfire. Specifically, producers would insert edgier
content into their shows and justify insertions by pointing out that attached
ratings warned the audience it was coming. Did that happen? Is prime time
raunchier than before the ratings system was adopted? PTC analysts found
that it is more offensive than ever.
"A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation
found that half of all parents with children ages 2-17 (54%) say they
are using the ratings to help guide their children's viewing, and 45%
say they have stopped at least one of their children from watching a particular
show because of its rating. But more than eight out of ten parents who
use the ratings say that improvements could be made to make the ratings
more useful, and many do not have a good understanding of how the current
system works. The majority of parents surveyed were unaware that the television
industry rates itself.
"A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation
found that content descriptors are not being used on the vast majority
of general audience shows containing sex, violence, or adult language.
Children's programs also contain a significant amount of violence, most
of which is not indicated by a FV content descriptor.