Study Questions TV Content Ratings System

The Parents Television Council (PTC) this week released an analysis of the last 20 years of the TV Content Ratings System and declared it to be a bust. While TV industry representatives believe that the rating system combined with V-chip technology empowers parents to supervise what their children are viewing, that assertion is challenged by PTC’s finding that the ratings system itself is fundamentally broken. 

PTC’s Protecting Children or Protecting Hollywood study documents in disturbing detail that both the amount and the intensity of graphic violence, profanity, and sexual content is growing on television, notably in programs that are rated “TV-PG.” PTC also found that regular programming rated appropriate for all audiences (“TV-G”) has been eliminated from prime time on the major TV networks. Similarly striking, no content at all on those networks has a rating of “TV-MA” (for mature audiences), meaning that all programs are considered by the ratings board to be potentially appropriate for a 14-year-old child. 

PTC President Tim Winter said, “Parents who rely on the TV Content Ratings System to make informed decisions about what to watch on television have been deceived, as our new research shows that the ratings system has systemically failed to provide accurate and consistent information for its entire 20-year existence.”

Finding fault in conflicts of interest that undermine the ratings process, Mr. Winter concluded, “It is time for the system to be accurate, consistent, transparent, and accountable to the public.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: April 8, 2016

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