PTC Calls for FCC Oversight of TV Content Ratings System

The Parents Television Council (PTC) this week called on the FCC to review its order from two decades ago that established the V-chip, TV content ratings system, and the Parental Guidelines Oversight Monitoring Board.

Referencing the anniversary of the horrific attack on a high school in Parkland, Florida, PTC highlighted efforts to counter influences pushing children to violence. Specifically, PTC referenced its 2018 report that documents an alarming rise of gun violence on primetime broadcast television programs and reveals that the current ratings system communicated to parents that those shows were appropriate for children.

In his letter to FCC Chairman Ajit 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 was 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.

The TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board has highlighted a survey showing that 77 percent of parents utilize its ratings system. The ratings board also contends that its polling suggests 96 percent of parents are satisfied with the accuracy of its ratings.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: February 15, 2019

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