Gore galore on network TV
VIOLENCE on American broadcast TV networks’ dramas can equal the graphic gore of more notorious cable shows like The Walking Dead, though they carry milder parental cautions, a new US study found.
Scenes of stabbings, shootings, rape, decapitation and mutilation invariably received a TV-14 “parents strongly cautioned” rating on network TV, according to the Parents Television Council study released last week.
But similar fare on cable TV typically was given the most stringent label, TV-MA for mature audiences only, researchers for the media watchdog group found.
“There are zero series rated TVMA on broadcast,” said the media watchdog council President Tim Winter, despite programmes that are awash in violent scenes.
It is vital to examine the media’s effect on children and real-world violence, Winter said.
The study of 14 series during a four-week period found a 6% difference in the overall incidence of violence of all types on cable versus broadcast, with 1,482 violent acts on the cable shows and 1,392 on the network series.
Federally regulated broadcasters face sanctions if they cross the line on indecency or expletives but not violence.
Under political and social pressure in the mid-1990s, a voluntary episode rating system was established by the TV industry to be used with the so-called V-chip that can block shows electronically.
Networks find it financially vital to avoid applying TV-MA ratings, Winters said, which scare off advertisers.
TV-14 warns that a program may include intense violence, sex or language not suitable for children under 14, while TV-MA is intended for shows that might have indecent language, graphic violence or explicit sexuality, according to the TV Parental Guidelines webpage.
The PTC study defined graphic as “especially vivid, brutal and realistic acts of violence” that are explicitly depicted. Among the network examples cited:
A bar fight scene on NBC’s Revolution in which a character wields a sword and a dagger to slash open a man’s chest, cut another’s neck and stab a third in the chest. The blood-spattered character pulls his sword from the last victim’s body.
A woman is tortured in captivity, with an implanted camera sending images of her agony online in an episode of CBS’ Criminal Minds. An FBI agent watches as a hammer is driven into the victim’s head.
Other broadcast shows in the study included NBC’s The Blacklist, Fox’s Sleepy Hollow, CBS’ CSI and NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Winter said his group’s study, taken together with an report study that gun violence in PG-13 movies rivals such scenes in R-rated films, “starts to weave together a fabric that urgently needs a public response.” — AP
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