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The public policy research center's survey said 75% of the 1,505 adults polled from March 17-21 would like to see tighter enforcement of government rules on broadcast content, particularly when children are most likely to be watching; 60% want broadcast TV indecency standards extended to cable TV; and 69% want higher fines for media companies.
Worried about government influence
At the same time, the survey showed more people are worried about the effects of undue government influence on the entertainment industry than they are about the entertainment industry producing harmful content (48% to 41%).
While the media is getting blamed by most people for the levels of indecency on the airwaves, the fingerpointing comes most strongly from conservative Republicans, with 57% citing harmful entertainment as the biggest concern, while 72% of liberal Democrats suggest that excessive government regulation is a bigger worry.
"There is broad support for almost anything on the table, but also a hesitancy about the government role," said Carroll Doherty, associate director of the Pew Center. "There is a nervousness, a general wariness."
He also said that despite the show of concern, when pressed people say they aren’t personally bothered. "There is an element of inconsistency," he said.
Indecency on the Internet
Despite worries about government regulation going too far, there is broad support for actually passing measures that would tighten available government regulatory measures. And TV is not the only medium being scrutinized; 73% of people and 81% of parents are worried about indecency on the Internet, compared with 61% of people and 67% of parents worried about indecency on TV.
Overall, though, Americans don’t like their TV. Sixty-six percent said entertainment TV shows are worse than five years ago, and only 24% found them better, a pattern in line with previous surveys in 1983 and 1993.
Not all the dissatisfaction was directed at sexual content; the study reported 33% are bothered “a lot” by homosexual characters or themes. Meanwhile, 46% are bothered by references or depictions of drug use, and 38% by reality shows that make fun of or trick people.