The group studied 180 hours of original programming on six broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, MyNetworkTV and the CW) during three two-week ratings sweeps periods in 2006 and 2007. It found that instances of violence had increased 52.4% since a similar study in 2000-2001 and that sexual content had increased 22.1%.
The Parents Television Council is hoping that the FCC begins to regulate violence on television the way they already regulate “indecent content.”
The network response is that with the vastly increased number of options available to families, with so many more channels now available in the basic cable package, there is less need to provide that type of programming.
To be honest, I agree with the networks on this one. One of the reasons the FCC had the authority to regulate television was a combination of two factors – 1. the finite number of frequencies used to transmit broadcast signals were publicly owned and 2. there was a scarcity of options in broadcast television. To the extent that #2 becomes less of an issue, the authority of the FCC to regulate broadcasting should be diminished.
What the regulate-television-on-behalf-of-families crowd seems not to be able to understand is that television is a value neutral tool. Like the internet, it has nothing to say about what it is transmitting. It is not a substitute for parenting in respect to instilling values and exposing kids to what’s out there in the world. Developing technology that allows “parental controls” to prevent kids from watching whatever they want while the parents are not around is appropriate.
But the world is a dangerous place sometimes. And people have sex all the time (at least that’s what I hear…). I’d like my television shows to have something thoughtful to say about reality. It’s an art. Sometimes good. Sometimes very, very bad. But it should be free to tell stories that are important and relevant to all of us, even if often it does not.
Artificial restraints based on someone’s notion of “sensible family” programming simply isn’t the appropriate role for the government. Especially if there is a vastly less intrusive way to accomplish what is purported to be the goals of the movement.