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Study: MTV content more offensive than that of broadcast TV

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–For years, parents have complained about the sexually explicit and vulgar content of programs on broadcast television. As it turns out, a cable channel marketed to their children — MTV — may be even worse.

A study released Feb. 1 by the Parents Television Council found that MTV has considerably more sexual content and foul language than its counterparts on primetime broadcast television (ABC, CBS, NBC, etc).

The study — which surveyed 171 hours of MTV programming — found that the cable channel has an average of nine sexual scenes per hour and 8.9 “un-bleeped” uses of foul language per hour.

By comparison, the 10 o’clock (Eastern) hour on the broadcast networks has 5.8 sexual scenes per hour and 6.5 uses of foul language per hour. That hour, the final one of the primetime lineup, usually has more adult-themed programming — meaning that round-the-clock MTV programming is more offensive than broadcast TV’s “adult hour.”

According to Nielsen Media Research, MTV is watched by 73 percent of boys and 78 percent of girls ages 12 to 19, the study said.

“MTV is one of the major contributors to American popular culture becoming a pigsty,” Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, told Baptist Press. “The gratuitous sex, violence and filth poured forth into children’s minds and hearts through MTV is terribly damaging and destructive.

“… I cannot imagine that any parent — if they were informed about what’s on MTV — would allow their children to watch it.”

MTV’s reality programs contained the most sexual content, according to the study. Its music videos had the most foul language and violence.

In fact, the study showed that MTV’s depictions of violence were higher than that of broadcast TV. There were 6 incidences of violence per hour on MTV, compared to broadcast TV’s 5.8 incidences per hour during the 10 o’clock time slot.

In addition to the 8.9 “un-bleeped” foul words per hour, MTV programming also had 18.3 bleeped profanities an hour, the study found.

“This should be a wakeup call for parents everywhere to take drastic action to protect their children’s eyes and ears from this immoral indoctrination,” Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families, told Baptist Press.

Thomasson suggested that parents either severely restrict TV-viewing, purchase equipment to lock certain channels or get rid of the television altogether.

“What I’m suggesting can be very good for families,” he said. “When your children are raised on TV, they’re not your children anymore. They belong to MTV, they belong to anti-family forces.”

The study found that:

— The regular series “Room Raiders” — which airs during the daytime — has an average or 22 sexual scenes or scenarios per hour.

— The special “Spring Break Fantasies” had 32 sexual scenes in one hour.

— “Making the Band 2” was the most offensive in the foul-language category, having 52 obscenities (both bleeped and unbleeped).

— MTV’s reality programming contains an average of 12.6 sexual scenes per hour.

MTV, Land insisted, influences the behavior of children and teenagers.

“Television is built upon the premise that what you watch impacts your behavior,” he said. “That’s why we have advertising.”

Advertisers wouldn’t purchases ads “if it didn’t result in people purchasing their products,” Land said, adding, “how much more of an impact does this unrelenting smut have on our still-developing hearts and minds?”

Thomasson said that too many parents — Christian and non-Christian — are “asleep at the wheel” and do not know what television programs their children are watching.

“To many, the TV has been used a convenient baby-sitter,” Thomasson said. “… It is the job of Christian parents to sacrifice what they perceive is good in order to choose the best. You either love TV or you love your children. You cannot serve both.”

Brent Bozell, president of the Parents Television Council, said the study underscores the need for “cable choice” — the ability of parents to choose which cable channels they want as part of their subscription. Some congressmen favor such a bill.

“MTV is a subsidized network,” Bozell said in a statement. “As it now stands, parents have no choice but to take –- and pay for -– MTV if they want basic cable in their homes. Given a choice, how many parents now being forced to take and pay for MTV as part of a basic cable package, would continue to do so?”

The Parent Television Council’s study was based on MTV programming between March 20 and March 27, 2004. Much of it included MTV’s spring break coverage.

The study is dubbed: “MTV Smut Peddlers: Targeting Kids with Sex, Drugs and Alcohol.”

In the entire 171-hour study, the Parents Television Council documented 1,548 sexual scenes, containing 3,056 depictions of sex or forms of nudity and 2,881 verbal sexual references. They found 1,518 uses of unedited foul language and 3,127 bleeped profanities, and 1,068 violent incidences.

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  • Michael Foust