Parents Television Council: Shocking Results of New Study on TV Content Ratings

Posted on October 15, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Copyright Stylus 2014
It isn’t shocking to learn that television has become less and less child-friendly over the years. Anyone who has ever turned on a set knows that. What is shocking is how little has been done to give parents the information they need to protect their children from what they don’t want them to see. As my dad, who has been fighting for better television, especially for children, since he was Chairman of the FCC 1961-63 says, we spend a lot of time making sure our children know not to talk to strange and possibly dangerous people and yet we invite strange and dangerous content into our living rooms, kitchens, and, increasingly, unsupervised bedrooms, when we let them watch television. His book, Abandoned in the Wasteland, documented this in detail.

Today, the Parents Television Council has released a new report called A Decade of Deceit with some very disturbing findings that every parent should think about carefully. For example:

We found that on shows rated TV-PG, there was a 28% increase in violence; and a 44% increase in profanity over a ten-year period. There was also a more than twice as much violence on shows rated TV-14 in the 2017-18 television season than in the 2007-08 season, both in per-episode averages and in absolute terms.

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 overall number of G-rated shows in 2017-2018 was almost identical to that a decade earlier: five or fewer. Some “sweeps” periods contained no G-rated programming at all.

Networks are packing substantially more profanity and violence into youth-rated shows than they did a decade ago; but that increase in adult-themed content has not affected the age-based ratings the networks apply. On shows rated TV-PG, there was a 28% increase in violence; and a 44% increase in profanity over a ten-year period.

Almost 90% said that they have never used the V-chip or parental controls to block programs, and an incredible 92% couldn’t explain what the industry’s D, L, S and V content descriptors stand for. This clearly demonstrates that parents WANT an effective and trustworthy content ratings system…but they don’t trust and don’t understand the one that exists now – and has existed for over 20 years. A 2014 poll in Costco Connection Magazine found an astonishing 97% of readers agreed that we should rethink the rating system for television and film. In fact, the only public opinion polls that show support for or satisfaction with the existing ratings system are those paid for by the industry.

Most astonishing is that there have been no changes to the rating system — in which the television network employees rate their own shows with no real oversight by those with expertise in child development — has not changed at all in 20 years, despite the fact that this period has had significant changes in media, technology, and culture.

The report concludes:

In a letter to the PTC dated June 3, 2019 – and which was sent just a few weeks after the FCC delivered its report to Congress – Michael Powell, President & CEO of the NCTA (The Internet and Television Association) and current chairman of the TVOMB stated, “The Monitoring Board shares your goal of ensuring that the TV ratings system remains a source of accurate and helpful information, and we are deeply committed to continuing to provide parents with the necessary resources to enable them to make informed choices about TV viewing in their homes.”

It sounds good; but this assertion is simply not true. Despite two decades of parental concerns about the TV content ratings system, the entertainment industry has consistently defied public calls for reform. There have been promises of improvement, but no improvement, as this report demonstrates.

We strongly support the PTC’s recommendations:

Ratings Accuracy
A symposium of pediatricians, children’s mental health experts, and child/family advocates should be convened to review the definitions of each age-based content rating (TV-Y7, TV-G, TV-14, et cetera) in order to ensure that each rating category definition accurately and effectively reflects contemporary knowledge. International best practices should be considered and incorporated into this review.

Because the entertainment industry stands to benefit financially when content is inaccurately rated for younger audiences, to avoid any potential conflict of interest, TVOMB industry members should be permitted to offer their opinion, but not to alter the outcome of this independent review of the rating definitions and their application.

Accessibility
Every exhibitor and distributor should commit to airing a minimum number of public service announcements about the content ratings system. Most parents have never heard of TVOMB, and most have no idea it is their obligation to complain to TVOMB about a rating that they may find to be inaccurate.

Public service announcements about the TV content ratings system should provide contact information and urge parents to communicate with TVOMB regarding any questions or concerns they might have. The mere existence of a TVOMB website and phone number provides absolutely zero value without public awareness.

Every effort should be made by TVOMB to bring more digital distribution platforms to the table. This would include the major independent players in the digital entertainment arena (e.g. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, et cetera) as well as those that are owned or controlled by TVOMB members (CBS All Access, Disney+, Pluto TV, and others).

Transparency
TVOMB should expand its member composition to create a more balanced weighting of industry, health experts and parental groups.

Entertainment industry “front groups” which currently hold a number of the family advocate seats should be removed.
Formal terms, and term limits, should be applied to Board members, to ensure that fresh perspectives are represented.
Board member qualifications should be provided to the public.

Meetings should be regularly scheduled and announced to the public.

Meetings should be open to the public and to the press.

How to file a complaint about a program’s rating, and the TVOMB’s subsequent adjudication process, should be clearly explained.

It is time for the TV content ratings system to reflect the realities of today’s entertainment media technologies and cultural landscape. Bold, positive and comprehensive improvements to a 22-year old system are needed to bring it into the 21st century.

Related Tags:

 

Parenting Television

EVIL: CBS Series About Investigators of the Supernatural

Posted on September 19, 2019 at 6:58 am

“177 Minutes” — Kristen, David and Ben are called to investigate a supposed miracle when Naomi Clark (Hannah Hodson), a 17-year-old soccer player, comes back to life after she had been declared dead for almost two hours. Also, Kristen meets with her former boss, Lewis Cormier (Danny Burstein), at the Queens District Attorney’s office where she runs into Leland Townsend, on EVIL, Thursday, Oct. 3 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured (l-r) Aasif Mandvi as Ben Shakir, Katja Herbers as Kristen Bouchard and Mike Colter as David Acosta Photo: Jeff Neumann/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
A scientist who does not believe in the supernatural (Kristen Bouchard) teams up with a man investigating the origins of evil along the dividing line between science and religion (Mike Colter) in a compelling new series simply called “Evil.” It will be on CBS Thursday nights at 10 (9 Central). The series is from Michelle and Robert King, the creators of The Good Wife and The Good Figh, which means the dialogue with crackle and the themes will be provocative and timely. Storylines include a possible “miracle” as a young athlete comes back to life after being dead (or “dead”) for two hours, a theatrical producer who goes from demanding to possibly demonic, and a young boy who may be psychopathic, or perhaps possessed.

Related Tags:

 

Television

New on CBS: Carol’s Second Act Starring Patricia Heaton

Posted on September 19, 2019 at 6:45 am

Carol was a high school science teacher who always wanted to be a doctor. When her husband left her, she decided to make her dream come true at age 50. Patricia Heaton sparkles as Carol, whose unabashed enthusiasm, empathy, and real-life experience overcome the skepticism of her fellow interns. The cast includes Ito Aghayere as Carol’s demanding Chief Resident and Kyle MacLaughlan as the senior doctor on the staff. It will be on CBS Thursdays at 9:30 (8:30 Central).

“You Give Me Fever” — When Carol treats an elderly patient with a fever, Mrs. Zahn (Carol Mansell), and her tests are inconclusive, Carol must find a way to work around Dr. Jacobs and hospital policy to take extra time to observe her. Also, Daniel is embarrassed when his fellow interns find out that he doesn’t know how to do the basic medical skill of drawing blood, on CAROL’S SECOND ACT, Thursday, Oct. 3 (9:30-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured L to R: Carol Mansell as Mrs. Zahn, Patricia Heaton as Carol Kennedy and Lucas Neff as Caleb. Photo: Sonya Flemming/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Related Tags:

 

Television

The Bradys Are Back! HGTV’s New Show — A Very Brady Renovation

Posted on September 9, 2019 at 7:10 pm

Copyright 2019 HGTV

 

You’d better sit down. The Brady kids are in their 50’s and 60’s now. And that iconic house we glimpsed in the opening credits was bought by HGTV, which has combined two irresistible ideas: rehabbing the house and getting the gang back together. All of the one-time Brady kids, the oldest one Medicare-eligible, are back together, working with HGTV’s most popular renovation experts, to make the inside of the house into something that never actually existed before — a real-life version of the “Brady Bunch” sets, even including Greg’s cool attic room. Some lucky Brady fan will win a chance to stay in the house and pretend that Alice and Carol are making dinner in the kitchen. If only Mike Brady was here to bring his blueprints.

Related Tags:

 

Television

On Her Shoulders — PBS July 22, 2019

Posted on July 18, 2019 at 9:10 am

On Her Shoulders is the story of Nadia Murad Basee Tah, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy on behalf of the victims of ISIL. The film has its national broadcast debut on the PBS documentary series POV and pov.org on Monday, July 22 at 9 p.m. (check local listings). The film is a co-production of RYOT Films and American Documentary | POV. POV is American television’s longest-running independent documentary series now in its 32nd season. The film was an official selection at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and was shortlisted for Best Documentary Feature for the 91st Academy Awards.

I reviewed the film for rogerebert.com. An excerpt:

Director Alexandria Bombach understands that there are two stories here. First there is the inspiring story of a young woman who had no ambitions of becoming a world figure but who overcame unthinkable loss and trauma by devoting herself to helping others. Then there is the story of a young woman who is forced to relive her most painful experience over and over and who is constantly bombarded by the overwhelming needs of others, from the photo-op sympathy of politicians and journalists to the heartbreak of her surviving community, most still living in refugee camps, who sob in her arms and beg her to get them some help.

Related Tags:

 

Television
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2020, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik