Nudity on television increased by over 400 percent during the 2011-2012 broadcast season compared to the previous year, announced the Parents Television Council (PTC), citing its latest research. The TV watchdog group, which monitors network programming for objectionable content, found that on shows running from September 1 to May 31, there were no less than 76 incidents of full nudity on 37 shows, compared to 15 incidents in 14 shows the previous year — an increase of an astounding 407 percent.
Responding to the findings, PTC's president Tim Winter penned a letter to key U.S. Congress members urging them to pressure the the Federal Communications Commission(FCC) to move ahead with its log-jam of some 1.6 million decency complaints filed by citizens and groups over the past several years. Winter noted that his group's study found a trend among broadcasters toward more full-frontal nudity, full nudity at earlier hours of the evening, and a tendency on the part of the networks to forgo using content rating systems to forewarn parents of upcoming smut on shows.
“In 2006, Congress passed the Broadcast Decency Enforcement Act in response to growing outrage from the American people over the broadcast networks’ abuse of the publicly owned broadcast airwaves,” wrote Winter in his letter to the congress members. “Yet since that time, we have seen a concerted effort on the part of the networks to constantly push the outer limit of what may be considered appropriate for the broadcast medium.”
Among PTC's alarming findings in its latest study:
• Nearly 70 percent of the scenes depicting full nudity during the 2011-12 period in question were on shows that aired before 9:00 p.m. and as early as 7:00 p.m. By contrast, during the previous year 50 of such scenes aired after 9:00 p.m.
• Of the 76 instances of full nudity this season, only five occurred on shows that offered codes alerting parents to inappropriate content for children.
• As for instances of full-frontal nudity, while one occurred during the 2010-11 study period, a total of 64 instances of full-frontal nudity were tallied for the latest season — an increase of 6,300 percent in just one year.
• There was a 2,700 percent increase in the use of blurring and pixilation to cover body parts in 2011-12 compared to the previous year.
• During the 2010-11 study period, such devices as black bars, logos, or conveniently placed objects were used in scenes 87 percent of the time to block the view of sexual body parts. One year later, in 74 percent of similar incidents producers had resorted to the more suggestive use of blurring or pixilation to cover body parts.
“Contrary to what executives from NBC, ABC, and CBS told you in 2004 and 2005, and contrary to what attorneys for the networks recently argued before the Supreme Court, they are not acting in the public interest,” Winter told the congress members in his letter. Instead, he warned, they are “aggressively pursuing a dangerous agenda to completely obliterate any remaining television taboos.”
Winter pointed out that during prime time across all broadcast networks, the “use of the bleeped or muted f-word increased from 11 instances in 2005 to 276 instances in 2010” — an astounding increase of 2,409 percent. “It’s not just the language that’s getting coarser,” he wrote. “PTC research has found a staggering increase in the frequency and explicitness of pixelated nudity on the broadcast networks during primetime hours.”
The TV watchdog head warned that networks “have made it abundantly clear they have no intention of respecting either the broadcast licenses they’ve been granted or the public in whose interest they are licensed to serve. Therefore the American people, whose values are being assaulted on a nightly basis, must insist that the Federal Communications Commission vigorously enforce broadcast decency laws, as mandated by the Congress and affirmed by the Supreme Court.”
Winter called on the congressmen to offer the FCC their “full support for decency enforcement; to urge the FCC to move forward with all due haste in clearing the backlog of 1.6 million unadjudicated indecency complaints; and to give the FCC the tools it needs to ensure enforcement actions are meaningful and appropriate ... Because Our Children Are Watching.”
Dan Isett, PTC's director of public policy, emphasized that advertisers bear a major part of the responsibility to persuade networks to stop the objectionable programming. “They're the ones who ultimately write the checks and produce the money that funds all of this material,” he told OneNewsNow, “and they have the most important role to play in what actually gets produced. Do they want their corporate brands associated with things as risqué and damaging to children as nudity or pixilated nudity...?”