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Study: Broadcast TV nudity up 407 percent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — America’s parents likely don’t need any evidence television content is getting worse, but a new study shows there was a 407 percent increase in pixilated-type full nudity on broadcast television in the 2011-12 TV year — most of it occurring before 9 p.m. and little of it containing the appropriate warning.

The study by the Parents Television Council is but the latest one showing that television is only getting coarser. A 2010 PTC study showed that profanity on broadcast TV had increased by 69 percent from five years earlier.

In light of the newest study Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, sent a letter to members of the House of Representatives Aug. 20 asking them to “give the FCC your full support for decency enforcement.” He also asked them to urge the FCC to “move forward with all due haste in clearing the backlog of 1.6 million unadjudicated indecency complaints.”

“Contrary to what executives from NBC, ABC, and CBS told you in 2004 and 2005,” Winter wrote, “and contrary to what attorneys for the networks recently argued before the Supreme Court, they are not acting in the public interest; they are aggressively pursuing a dangerous agenda to completely obliterate any remaining television taboos.”

The PTC study did not include animated programs, traditional news shows or sports and only included scenes in which the individuals were “completely unclothed” and only the sexual organs were “blocked from the viewer.”

Among the study’s findings:

— There were 76 incidents of nudity on 37 shows in 2011-12, an increase from 2010-11 when there were 15 incidents on 14 shows.

— Nearly 70 percent of the scenes in 2011-12 that depicted nudity occurred before 9 p.m. and as early as 7 p.m. — when children might still be up. The previous year, 50 percent of the scenes took place before 9 p.m.

— ABC (14) and NBC (12) led the way with episodes depicting nudity, with CBS (7), Fox (2) and CW (2) trailing.

— Of the 76 instances of nudity during 2011-12, only five took place during a show with the appropriate “S” (sexual content) descriptor at the beginning of the program.

Among the programs with nudity were ABC’s “Suburgatory” and “The Bachelor,” and NBC’s “The Office,” “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers” and “America’s Got Talent.”

Some companies have created products to assist parents who want cleaner television. One company, ClearPlay, sells a DVD player that mutes bad language and also skips objectionable scenes. While that doesn’t help with broadcast TV, it does offer a solution for those willing to wait until their favorite programs are released on DVD. Another company, TVGuardian, sells a unit that mutes profanity on broadcast television. The TV Guardian console mutes the profanity by monitoring closed captioning.
Michael Foust is associate editor of Baptist Press. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Michael Foust