In its recent report to Congress on the accuracy of the TV ratings and effectiveness of oversight, the Federal Communications Commission noted that the system has not changed in over 20 years.
Indeed, it has not, but content has, and the TV ratings fail to reflect “content creep,” (that is, an increase in offensive content in programs with a given rating as compared to similarly-rated programs a decade or more ago). Networks are packing substantially more profanity and violence into youth-rated shows than they did a decade ago; but that increase in adult-themed content has not affected the age-based ratings the networks apply. We found that on shows rated TV-PG, there was a 28% increase in violence; and a 44% increase in profanity over a ten-year period. There was also a more than twice as much violence on shows rated TV-14 in the 2017-18 television season than in the 2007-08 season, both in per-episode averages and in absolute terms.
Top 10 Things You Need to Know About the TV Rating SystemsThe Television Ratings system is broken.
It’s time for real #RatingsReform.
Tell Congress to ACT on Ratings Reform!
Whereas The Telecommunications Act of 1996 created a three-part system that would assist parents in protecting children from harmful media content. Under Federal Communications Commission Report and Order 98-35 in 1998, the three components were:
1. The installation of a “V-chip” in all newly-manufactured television sets. This chip would read the content rating assigned to a program, and would allow parents to protect their children by blocking harmful or unwanted programming;
2. The creation of a content ratings system. These ratings would allow the V-chip to function, by assigning a rating (similar to the familiar ratings given movies) to each episode of every television program, barring news and sports; and
3. The establishment of an Oversight Monitoring Board. The OMB was charged with managing the content rating process, and ensuring that the ratings assigned to programs were accurate and consistent.
1. The “V-Chip” is useless when TV ratings are inaccurate.
2. The content ratings are entirely self-administered by the networks, with little or no objective standards or transparent criteria for their application.
3. Oversight is done by the very same individuals that are misrating the content in the first place; meetings are not public, and no record of what is discussed is made available to the public after the fact.
And Whereas: In its recent report to Congress, the Federal Communications Commission noted the system has not changed in over twenty years.
We the Undersigned do hereby call on Congress to conduct a bipartisan, bicameral fact-finding hearing, forum or symposium to deliver on the promises of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
We call for the TVOMB to be reconstituted to give equal weight to the TV industry, parent groups, and health experts/social scientists.