TV vi­o­lence found to be more fre­quent, graphic than ever

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Kara Row­land

Amer­ica’s chil­dren are be­ing ex­posed to more dead bod­ies, fist­fights and per­verts than ever be­fore, ac­cord­ing to an anal­y­sis of vi­o­lence on prime-time television re­leased on Jan. 10 by the Par­ents Television Coun­cil.

Vi­o­lent con­tent from 8 to 11 p.m. on week­days jumped 75 per­cent from 1998 to 2006, largely be­cause of pop­u­lar crime-solv­ing shows and med­i­cal dra­mas such as “Law and Or­der” and “CSI,” the Los An­ge­les non­profit con­cluded in its re­port, ti­tled “Dy­ing to En­ter­tain.”

For its sec­ond such study, the group pored through 1,187.5 hours of prime­time en­ter­tain­ment pro­grams on ma­jor broad­cast net­works from the first two weeks of the Novem­ber, Fe­bru­ary and May sweeps pe­ri­ods dur­ing the 2003-04, 2004-05 and 2005-06 sea- sons. The anal­y­sis ex­cluded movies, news pro­grams and sports events.

The group, which lob­bies against sex, vi­o­lence and pro­fan­ity in en­ter­tain­ment, mea­sured vi­o­lence by track­ing scenes that con­tained vio-


lent el­e­ments and count­ing the fre­quency of vi­o­lence within each scene. For ex­am­ple, if a char­ac­ter were to pull out a gun dur­ing a fist­fight and shoot some­one, it would be recorded as two in­stances of vi­o­lence.

CBShadthe­high­est­per­cent­a­geof death­sportrayedonea­chofitsshows dur­ing prime time. On all the net­works — ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, WB and UPN — 54 per­cent of vi­o­lent scenes de­picted death or im­plied it.

Gunswere­in­volvedin63per­cent of vi­o­lent scenes, and knives fea­tured in 15 per­cent.

At 309 per­cent, ABC had the big­gest in­crease in vi­o­lent con­tent since 1998, which the group ex­am­ined in its study re­leased in 2002, bal­loon­ingfrom0.93in­stance­sofvi­o­lence per hour to 3.80 in­stances dur­ing the 2005-06 sea­son.

Fox had the small­est in­crease in vi­o­lent con­tent since 1998, a 12 per­cent rise to 3.84 in­stances per hour.

NBC is Amer­ica’s most vi­o­lent net­work, ac­cord­ing to the num­bers, with 6.79 vi­o­lent in­stances each hour. CBS came in sec­ond at 5.56.

At the bot­tom of the list, UPN and the WB — which in the fall com­bined to form the CW Television Net­work — had 0.86 and 3.52 vi­o­lent in­stances per prime time hour, re­spec­tively.

ABC’s short-lived mur­der drama “NightStalker”wasthe­mostvi­o­lent pro­gramofthe2005-06sea­son,with 26 in­stances of vi­o­lence in one hour. The­series,in­whichan­in­ves­tiga­tive re­portersearch­es­forhiswife’skiller, was can­celed af­ter six episodes.

“De­spite the wide­spread con­sen­sus that TV vi­o­lence is a sig­nif­i­cant prob­lem, it has not only be­come more fre­quent, but more graphic in re­cent years,” Tim Win­ter, pres­i­dent of the Par­ents Television Coun­cil, told re­porters at a press con­fer­ence fea­tur­ing Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sioner Michael J. Copps.

In ad­di­tion, Mr. Win­ter noted, vi­o­lent scenes are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly sex­ual as rapes, sex­ual preda­tor­sand­char­ac­ter­swith­fetish­e­sare pop­ping up on prime time dra­mas.

The re­port cited an episode of “CSI” that aired on CBS at 9 p.m. in Novem­ber 2004 in which a trans­sex­ual was mu­ti­lated and killed.

Inan­oth­erex­am­ple,anepisodeof “LawandOrder:Tri­al­byJury”that aired on NBC at 10 p.m. in April 2005in­volve­day­oung­man­whowas ar­rested­out­side­abar­ca­ter­ing­to­ho­mo­sex­u­als and died in the cus­tody of po­lice of­fi­cers, who raped him with a blunt in­stru­ment.

“There is an ab­so­lute, ob­jec­tive con­sen­sus”thatchil­dren­ex­posedto vi­o­lence on television are more likely to use vi­o­lence to solve their prob­lems and be­come de­sen­si­tized to its con­se­quences, said Jeff McIn­tyre, leg­isla­tive and fed­eral af­fairs of­fi­cer at the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion.

Mr. Win­ter said the V-chip — an elec­tron­ic­chipthatal­lows­par­entsto block TV pro­gram­ming they deem un­suit­able for chil­dren — is not an ef­fec­tive­toolto­block­vi­o­lent­con­tent, and called on ad­ver­tis­ers, broad­cast af­fil­i­ates and Congress to help re­duce such pro­gram­ming.

“We’re not call­ing for a ban on any­thing,” he said, adding that even if most chil­dren are in bed by 10 p.m., in­creased vi­o­lence in that time slot­put­spres­sure­on­the9and8p.m. slots as well.

In ad­di­tion, Mr. Win­ter crit­i­cized in­stances in which pro­mo­tions for vi­o­lent, late-night shows are shown ear­lierinthe­day,and­when­pop­u­lar syn­di­cated pro­grams that may not beap­pro­pri­ate­forchil­drenairinthe day­time.

“If broad­cast­ers do not step up to the­p­late­and­self-po­lice,Idon’tthink any­ofusshouldbesur­prised­ifCon­gress­de­cidestostepin,”warnedMr. Copps. He said the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion should “tee up some op­tions” for law­mak­er­sto­con­sider­but­did­not­givea­spe­cific pro­posal.

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