TV losing sex appeal, violent ways, study finds

Mar 25, 2002  •  Post A Comment

All the jawboning about sex and violence on TV may be having an impact.
A study released by the Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington last week said the amount of sexual material in TV entertainment shows fell 29 percent from the 1998-99 season to the 2000-01 season. Seriously violent incidents, according to the study, were down 17 percent over the same period.
“After years of growing alarm over a rising tide of sex and violence in popular entertainment, there is evidence that television has started to clean up its act,” the group said.
The amount of sexual material was down on all of the Big 4 TV networks, with ABC dropping from 15 sexual incidents per hour in the 1998-1999 season to 12 in the 2000-01 season. CBS, according to the study, went from 12 incidents per hour to 6. Fox went from 18 to 14, and NBC dropped from 22 to 10. The number of incidents on basic cable, the study revealed, remained the same at 12 incidents per hour each season. But premium cable dropped from 45 incidents to 23.
The amount of violence was down 19 percent on CBS, from 21 incidents per hour in 1998-99 to 17 in 2000-01. Also down 25 percent was NBC, dropping from four incidents per hour to three. ABC programming contained an average of three violent scenes per hour each season. Violence on Fox was up 42 percent over the study period, from seven incidents per hour to 10. The study attributed much of the increase on Fox to “Dark Angel.”
Violence was also up 20 percent on basic cable, which moved from 10 incidents per hour to 12 over the study period. But violence was down 65 percent, from 17 incidents per hour to six, on premium cable channels.
The sexiest broadcast show during the 2000-01 season, according to the study, was UPN’s “Girlfriends,” with the average episode including 25 sexual references. UPN’s now-defunct “Gary & Mike” was ranked No. 2 , with 20 references per episode. NBC had five of the top 10 sexiest shows: “Law & Order” (18 references per episode); “First Years” (15); “Ed” (12); “Sammy” (11), and “The Michael Richards Show” (9).
The sexiest cable TV show was Showtime’s “Lady Chatterly’s Stories,” with 34 sexual references per episode. MTV’s “Undressed,” with 29 references, placed second.
Taking the honors as most-violent show was the now-defunct syndicated “Xena: Warrior Princess,” with an average of 63 violent acts in each episode. CBS’s “Walker, Texas Ranger,” placed second with 52.
At a press conference to unveil the study last week, longtime media critic Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., said the content analysis showed a “very positive trend line.”
“Thank you for listening to the parents of America,” he said.