Broadcast TV Content More Violent Than Ever

Parents Television Council Urges Advertisers to Demand Refunds

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WASHINGTON (AdAge.com) -- A new report from the Parents Television Council claims broadcast TV violence has increased dramatically and the group wants marketers to demand full refunds when their ads appear next to content that is deemed too violent.
An example of one of the 4.41 violent incidents an hour, courtesy CBS hit 'CSI'
An example of one of the 4.41 violent incidents an hour, courtesy CBS hit 'CSI' Credit: CBS

4.41 violent incidents per hour
The report found violence has increased in every prime-time slot since 1998, with violent incidents up 45% during the 8 p.m. hour, 92% during the 9 p.m. hour and 167% during the 10 p.m. hour. That works out to an average of 4.41 violent incidents per hour. The report's findings are based on TV programming during three sweeps periods (weeks when broadcast networks are particularly keen to get high ratings), and included only entertainment programming, not sports.

NBC, according to the report, had the most violent content during the 2005-2006 season, averaging 6.79 incidents per hour. CBS, no doubt due in large part to its popular "CSI" series, had the most deaths. ABC, meanwhile, saw the biggest increase in violent content since 1998. The report didn't track cable networks.

PTC President Tim Winter said the group doesn't want to censor content, but to point out the violent programming is sending a the message that violence is normal in society.

'Restraint by broadcasters'
"We are not calling for a ban on anything. We are calling for some responsibility and restraint by broadcasters," he said.

Advertisers should be more aware of the programs they sponsor and be held accountable to the public, he said, while at the same time holding the networks accountable for the shows they air.

"If a network misrepresents the nature of the content to an advertiser, we would suggest an advertiser receive a full and complete refund," Mr. Winter said.

Federal Communications Commission member Michael J. Copps questioned whether the "vast wasteland" described by former FCC Chairman Newton Minow in a landmark early 1960s speech "has morphed into a vast, violent wasteland."

"If broadcasters don't step up and self-police I don't think anyone will be surprised if Congress decides to step in," Mr. Copps said.
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