TV Violence Surges, Report Finds

Jan 10, 2007  •  Post A Comment

As a new report suggests broadcast television violence is dramatically increasing, Federal Communications Commission member Michael J. Copps is urging leaders of the cable and broadcast industries to convene an industry summit to discuss reining it in.

The report issued today by the Parents Television Council said TV violence since 1998 has increased in every prime time slot, 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. On average, the networks show 4.41 instances of violence per hour.

PTC president Tim Winter said the group doesn’t want to censor content but suggested that the violent programming is wrongly sending a message that violence is normal in society.

“We are not calling for a ban on anything,” he said. “We are calling for some responsibility and restraint by broadcasters.”

Mr. Copps, speaking at a press conference unveiling the report, Wednesday urged television industry groups to convene a summit to discuss violence on TV.

Mr. Copps questioned whether former FCC chairman Newton Minow description of TV in the early 1960s as “vast wasteland” has morphed into “a vast, violent wasteland.”

The commissioner urged National Association of Broadcasters President-CEO David Rehr and National Cable and Telecommunications Association President-CEO Kyle McSlarrow to convene the summit to discuss the issue of violence and warned that “if broadcasters don’t step up and self police I don’t think anyone will be surprised if Congress decides to step in.”

The NAB noted that cable programming wasn’t included in the study and that the broadcast industry has launched a public service effort touting ways for parents to control what their kids see on TV.

“NAB believes the best approach is to arm responsible parents with the tools needed to screen out shows that may be inappropriate for children, as opposed to censoring some of the most popular programming on television,” said Dennis Wharton, an NAB spokesman.

The National Cable Television Association declined to give immediate comment.

NCTA declined immediate comment.

The PTC based its report on content during three sweeps periods, examining entertainment programming not including sports.

NBC, according to the group, had the most violent content during the 2005-2006 season, averaging 6.79 incidents per hour, but CBS had the most deaths. ABC, meanwhile, has seen the biggest increase in violent content since 1998. The report didn’t cover cable.

Mr. Winter said advertisers should be more aware of the programs they sponsor and be held accountable to the public.

(Editor: Baumann)