FCC Seeks Comment on TV Parental Guidelines

Responding to a recent congressional directive, the FCC’s Media Bureau is seeking public comment this month on the accuracy of the TV Content Ratings System and the effectiveness of the industry-led oversight board in ensuring the integrity of that system.

The Parents Television Council (PTC) has been vocal that the current system is a failure. In a recent letter to FCC Chairman Pai, PTC president Tim Winter said:

If the entertainment industry is going to honor its commitment to families, the TV ratings system must be accurate and consistent; and the ratings process ought to be transparent and accountable to the public, especially to the parents for whom the system was created. Today it delivers on none of these things. What the entertainment industry does is offer dress rehearsals for gun violence on TV, in the movies, in violent video games, and then proceeds to rate shows with graphic violence and gun violence as appropriate for children. This is clear evidence that the entertainment industry contributes to marketing a culture of violence to children.

Another report released by PTC in 2016 found that both the amount and the intensity of graphic violence, profanity, and sexual content were growing on television, notably in programs that are rated “TV-PG.” That report also noted a decline in regular programming rated appropriate for all audiences (“TV-G”) in prime time on the major TV networks, as well as a concern with curiously absent “TV-MA” (for mature audiences) ratings.

For its part, the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, currently chaired by NCTA president and CEO Michael Powell, contends its research shows that parents are overwhelmingly satisfied with its work.

The FCC is seeking comments and reply comments by March 12 and March 19, respectively, so that it may meet a congressional deadline of May 15 to make its own determinations.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: March 1, 2019

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