New research is revealing some alarming statistics about what kids are seeing on TV. The latest report from the Parents Television Council (PTC), a group that monitors and exposes the ever-increasing presence of objectionable programming on television, shows that over the past 10 years profanity, violence, and sexually explicit content have been been getting worse on TV. What’s more, networks and program producers are willfully ignoring the ratings system supposedly designed to help parents navigate their children around unacceptable TV content.
According to the PTC report, there has been a dramatic increase in profanity, violence, and sexual content on programs rated TV-PG or TV-14 compared to programs with a similar rating just 10 years ago. Both ratings are meant to signal to parents that while a program is unsuitable for younger children, the profanity, graphic violence, and sexual depictions it contains are just fine for young adolescents and teens.
In fact, the PTC’s monitoring of television content found that programs with a TV-PG rating typically contained 28 percent more violence and nearly 44 percent more profanity in 2017-18 than similarly rated content in 2007-08. Likewise, for programming with a TV-14 rating, there was 150 percent more violence and 62 percent more profanity in 2017-18 than similarly rated programs in 2007-08.
The PTC report noted that part of the problem is that an increasing amount of children’s programming is being produced for older kids today as compared to 10 years ago, but that programming is being deceptively rated for younger kids. “In February 2008, programs rated TV-PG outnumbered those rated TV-14 more than 2-to-1,” observed the report. And “in February 2018, TV-14 content outnumbered PG content in almost the same ratio.”
As for G-rated programming appropriate for all ages, it seems the major networks have abandoned such wholesome content altogether — even on networks once touted as kid-friendly. “There were no G-rated programs on Fox, CW, or ABC — even though ABC is owned by Disney — in any of the ‘sweeps’ periods, in either 2007–2008 or 2017–2018,” the report observed.
Additionally, parents have been left in the dark by networks that their children are being exposed to increasing levels of sex, profanity, and violence in television content designated as kid-friendly.
Reflecting on the findings of his group’s report, the PTC’s president, Tim Winter, charged that while Hollywood insists that the rating system is “the best line of defense between children and inappropriate content,” in reality the PTC report shows the opposite. “Within the last decade, TV content rated as appropriate for children has become much more violent, and much more profane. Scenes with decapitation and dismemberment, and dialogue with [overtly vulgar and sexually charged language] receive the same content moniker — PG — as Shrek, Finding Dory, and the Lego Movie. Simply put, parents cannot possibly rely on a TV content rating system that labels increasingly graphic content as appropriate for children.”
Winter went on to explain that the always dubious ratings system has grown steadily more unreliable because it is being administered “by the same networks that produce the content, and they are financially incentivized to rate the content as appropriate for children.”
But the entire structure becomes even more farcical when one realizes that the “TV Parental Guidelines Oversight Monitoring Board is tasked with overseeing the ratings system, yet its membership is comprised of the same network executives who inaccurately rate the content to begin with,” Winter continued.
He noted that in a congressionally mandated report to Congress last May, the FCC conceded “the numerous, intrinsic failings of the existing ratings system and its ostensible oversight.” But over the ensuing five months, the networks and Hollywood producers have turned a blind eye to the FCC’s recommendations, with no one on the horizon to force their feet to the fire.
“With the release of this report,” Winter announced, the Parents Television Council is “urgently calling on Congress to ensure that the TV content ratings system, and the TV Parental Guidelines Oversight Monitoring Board, is overhauled to improve the accuracy, consistence, transparency, and public accountability of the TV ratings.”
Winter added that “it is time for the TV content ratings system to reflect the realities of today’s entertainment media technologies and cultural landscape” — so that it will reliably communicate to parents the perverse nature of the programming Hollywood and the unaccountable networks are shamelessly dishing out to children.
Read the entire report HERE.
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