Rockefeller Slams TV Ratings as Ineffective

Comes in Response to PTC Study, Which TV Watch Brands as Based on 'Faulty' Analysis
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Sen. Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.) labeled the voluntary TV ratings system "inadequate and ineffective" on Wednesday in response to a Parents Television Council content analysis on what kids would see on a show rated TV-PG.

Rockefeller has been a strong voice for regulation, self- or otherwise, of violent and sexual content as a way to protect kids.

His office confirmed the following quote given to CQ in response to the study: "These voluntary efforts by industry are clearly inadequate and ineffective. As we look to the future of video in the Commerce Committee, we must also continue to look at how best to arm parents with the tools to safeguard their children."

A Rockefeller spokesman said no hearings were currently planned on the issue, but that the chairman had been in contact with PTC to learn about the study.

The study, "What Kids Can See When It's Rated TV-PG," released Wednesday, was the sixth such report from the group. It concluded that there were more than 10.8 incidents of "explicit" adult content per hour, and violence in the shows that included "dismemberment, decapitation, violent drugging [and] animal abuse."

"For years, the broadcast industry and their agents have touted the V-chip and the content ratings system as the public's remedy for harmful, offensive and explicit programming. The findings of today's report suggest that the industry 'remedy' is a failure," said PTC president Tim Winter, who added that the situation must be remedied. "We call upon the television industry, the FCC, and Congress to immediately begin review of the order that implemented the current TV Ratings System. And we call for the system to increase its transparency and accountability to the public."

TV Watch, which the three of the Big Four broadcast nets -- ABC is not a member -- was launched to promote the V-chip/ratings system, was having none of it.

"With a majority of parents overwhelmingly pleased with the television ratings and parental controls, these studies -- which rely on faulty methodology and subjective analyses -- are really just an organization struggling to remain relevant," said TV Watch executive director Jim Dyke. "But there is a real danger as legislators and regulators may unwittingly rely on this subjective analysis to erroneously influence public policy."

The PTC report came out the same day TV Watch issued its fall advisory to parents about taking control of the TV using tools like the ratings/V-chip system.