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Family TV not ‘family-friendly,’ PTC finds

NASHVILLE (BP) — Contemporary television series showcasing family life will likely include sex, profanity and violence that make the entertainment unsuitable for family viewing, the Parents Television Council has found.

As many as 99 percent of the broadcast television shows about family that PTC studied contained some form of adult content in 2013, they noted in a Dec. 10 report. Profanity was found in 94 percent of shows; sexual content in 84 percent; 33 percent contain violence.

Among all 202 episodes of family-themed shows studied, only two episodes of “The Millers” were found suitable for family viewing, the PTC told Baptist Press. The sitcom has since been cancelled.

“Parents often assume that TV shows about families are ‘safe’ viewing choices,” PTC President Tim Winter said in a press release, “but our study shows that families who watch TV shows about families will be barraged by sex and profanity — even on TV-PG-rated shows. This is unacceptable.”

Shows marketed specifically to families are at fault, Winter said.

“Even on some of the more ‘family-friendly’ shows, there is still adult content such as pixilated nudity and bleeped profanity,” Winter said. “Also disturbing is that adult characters aren’t the only ones ‘delivering’ the lines with adult content — children are too.”

Child development research shows that children under the age of 8 have difficulty critically comprehending televised media messages and are prone to accept messages as truthful, the PTC reported.

The report, “Remembering Family: Insights and New Research on Family and Media,” found only one percent of family-themed TV shows to be suitable for family viewing.

This study examined only whether adult content was present and does not include data describing how much content was present in each show. PTC analysts examined every major broadcast network and every primetime show that featured family as central to their storyline. The study period was from the beginning of each network’s fall 2013 season through December 31, 2013.

Competition with cable shows drives network television to include objectionable material, Winter said.

“Ironically, broadcast TV shows have the capacity to attract many millions of viewers, and therefore, more ad dollars, while cable networks can be ‘successful’ with only a few million viewers,” Winter said.

“Yet NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt recently admitted that broadcast TV needs to be mindful of its audience in order to appeal to more people.”

The PTC quotes Greenblatt as having said, ‘The flip side is, in the broadcast world, you need to appeal to many more millions of people. Therefore, forget about what the FCC says. You just need to be more mindful of language and subject matter, and what certain characters do because, the entire country, in spite of the fact that we live in a very liberal business, does not want to see lots of sexuality. They do not want to hear language. They do not want to see serial killers running around being the centerpieces of shows. They don’t watch those kinds of shows. And it’s not just because they don’t have the [pay] services in their homes to watch them. They don’t seek them out.”

Winter referenced Greenblatt’s assessment in encouraging television programmers to remember the desires of families.

“This should be reason enough for the entertainment industry to ‘remember families,’ when it comes to trying to appeal to a broad audience, and therefore, create programming that the entire family can watch together without having adult content shoved in their faces. It’s really a no-brainer,” Winter said. “Families want to watch shows about families, but without the sex or profanity that’s all too common on
current fare.”

The Parents Television Council (www.parentstv.org) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media.

The full PTC report, “Remembering Families,” is at www.parentstv.org/mediafeed.

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