New research finds increase of nudity on network TV during primetime

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Maggie and Michael sound bite

New research from the Parents Television Council shows that blurred or pixilated full nudity is increasingly being shown on primetime broadcast television shows, and that almost 70% of this type of nudity is being shown on TV-PG rated programs.

The PTC found that there were almost as many shows containing blurred or pixilated full nudity in only the first 4 months of 2013 (N=16) as aired during the entire 2011-2012 television season (N=22). (Additional data is found below.)

Listen to an interview with Maggie and Michael, who talk with Melissa Henson, Director of Communications and Public Education for the Parents Television  Council:

“Most parents instinctively know that they need to monitor what their kids watch on television, but our new research shows that it would be almost impossible for them to protect their kids from blurred or pixilated nudity on TV since most broadcast TV networks are rating these shows as acceptable for young children,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

“This data exposes the huge flaw in the TV ratings system: that the TV networks rate their own content and are financially motivated not to give a TV show a higher rating, otherwise advertisers would likely flee.

“Our findings are also alarming because if this kind of nudity continues to increase – as we believe it will – and the FCC’s proposal to essentially stop enforcing the broadcast indecency law goes into effect, then it’s certain that the networks will continue to push the limits of decency even further. We have documented in the past that there is a phenomenon called ‘ratings creep,’ what’s not acceptable to show on TV in previous years eventually becomes acceptable. We cannot let that happen. Our children deserve to be protected. The FCC needs to enforce the indecency law – period. And if it doesn’t, then Congress needs to ensure that this happens and that children are protected,” Winter emphasized.

One of the PTC’s Chapter Directors, Claudia Wadzinski, said that it has always been difficult to protect her three children from inappropriate content on TV, and that these new findings will make her job even harder. “It is shocking to me as a parent that TV networks apparently find it appropriate to show full nudity blurred or pixilated during hours when my children may be watching. Even if my kids are watching TV with me, I don’t want them to be exposed to this kind of inappropriate content. But how am I supposed to protect my kids when the TV ratings are so low? Shows with this kind of nudity should be rated TV-MA, and I know a lot of parents who would agree,” she said.

The link to submit comments to the FCC is here: http://w2.parentstv.org/main/Action/ActionAlerts/aa_2013_04_09.aspx

The findings of the new PTC research are as follows:

(NOTE: This study focuses on instances of blurred or pixilated nudity on all primetime broadcast TV shows. The study excludes animated shows, partial nudity, obscured nudity, as well as the use of a black box to hide sexual body parts. The study period ran from January 1, 2013, through April 26, 2013.)

• There were almost as many shows containing full nudity in only the first 4 months of 2013 (N=16) as aired in the entire 2011-2012 television season (N=22). Based on these numbers, we project that the broadcast networks are on course to increase the amount of full nudity on primetime programming by 61%.
• Almost 70% of the full nudity depicted on primetime television during the first 4 months of 2013 was delivered by TV-PG programming (69%).
• 88% of the shows that depicted full nudity on primetime programming during the first 4 months of 2013 were shows that aired at 9:00 pm or earlier.
• 94% of the shows did not contain an “S” descriptor warning parents to the presence of heightened sexual content.
• All TV-14 rated shows containing full nudity aired 9:00 or earlier.
• Every instance of full nudity that aired 9:00 pm or after aired on a TV-PG rated show.
• Collectively, NBC and ABC accounted for 88% of the full nudity that aired on primetime broadcast television. Shows included: Modern Family (ABC), Happy Endings (ABC), Suburgatory (ABC), Parks and Rec. (NBC), Betty White Off Your Rocker (NBC), Whitney (NBC), Go On (NBC), Cops (Fox), and Survivor (CBS).

Content descriptions can be found at: http://w2.parentstv.org/Main/Research/PRDataSample.aspx.

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