PTC, TV Watch cross sabers over content


Watchdog Parents Television Council is accusing broadcast networks of hijacking Family Hour, the period from 8:00PM-9:00PM. It says instances of "violence, profanity or sexual content" have risen to one every three and a half minutes. But a watchdog of the watchdog, TV Watch, said the report is based on "faulty analysis, biased methodology and suspect omissions."

PTC says the number of incidents it finds objectionable amounted to 11.9 per hour in 2000-2001, rising 4.9% to 12.48 in 2006-2007. Language citations dropped 25.4%, but sex references were up 22.1% and violence was way up by 52.4%. Of the six networks, Fox was by far the worst offender, with 20.78 incidents per hour, followed by CBS (11.75), MNT (11.5), NBC (10.36), ABC (10) & CW (9.44).

"The Family Hour needs to be restored," said PTC’s Tim Winter. "We are calling on the broadcast industry to return to the time-honored principle of airing mature-themed content only at later times of the evening; and to provide parents with a consistent, objective and meaningful content ratings system. We are calling on the advertising industry to underwrite only time-appropriate content with their media dollars."

TV Watch’s Jim Dyke wasn’t buying it, however. "It’s not the PTC viewing hour or the government viewing hour," he said. "It’s about family viewing – and parents in the one-third of US households with children under 18 have all the information they need to make and enforce their viewing choices through ratings and blocking technology."

TVBR/RBR observation: For starters, we don’t buy the premise that TV is the open sewer PTC likes to call it. But even if we proceed under that assumption for the sake of argument, we remember one network exec telling a congressional panel that the last time they tried to program family-oriented fare during this time period, they got stomped in the ratings. The simple fact is that the vast majority of households have many viewing options, and broadcast programmers need to compete on a level playing field. On the plus side, parents also have many options, including blocking technology and direct supervision of their own children. Until such time as the 28th Amendment is enacted delegating to PTC the duties and obligations of national nanny of the airwaves, we think we’ll abide as closely as possible to that freedom of speech amendment that the founding fathers thought important enough to list First.