In New Letter, PTC Calls on Michael Powell and TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board to Reform TV Ratings System

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The Council Says TV Ratings are Inconsistent, Inaccurate, and Unreliable for Families

Parents Television Council

The fundamental problem behind the TV Ratings System is the fact that it is entirely self-serving and self-regulating, and the PTC has long been critical of those aspects.

The Parents Television Council called on the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board to implement a number of reforms to the TV ratings system in light of new evidence showing how inconsistent and inaccurate TV ratings are applied. The PTC has found systemic flaws with the ratings system, rending it unreliable for the people it was intended to serve.

In a letter to Michael Powell, president and CEO of the National Cable Telecommunications Association and head of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, PTC President Tim Winter also called out the board for its lack of transparency on a number of issues:

“The Oversight Monitoring Board lacks transparency of its membership, its meetings and its deliberations. There is no publicly available list of its members and their credentials that would qualify them to serve on the Board. There is no publicly available mention of its meetings. There are no publicly available minutes of its deliberations. … Simply put, there is no reason for parents to have confidence in the Oversight Monitoring Board, which ostensibly exists to field complaints from the public and to ensure overall accuracy and dependability, due to these issues.”

Mr. Winter outlined the recent problems that contributed to the call for ratings reform:

“The PTC and other organizations have documented inaccuracies and other troubling information about the TV Ratings System as currently configured. Parents Television Council research released last month found that some of the most violent TV-14-rated shows on broadcast TV have similar levels and types of violence as TV-MA-rated cable TV shows. Content such as child molestation, rape, mutilation/disfigurement, dismemberment, graphic killings and/or injuries by gunfire and stabbings, violent abductions, physical torture, cannibalism, burning flesh and suicide all showed up as types of violence in the study – yet broadcast TV programs containing these types of violence were rated as appropriate for 14-year-old children.

“If the TV Ratings System were being applied consistently and accurately, this should not be the case. The fundamental problem behind the TV Ratings System is the fact that it is entirely self-serving and self-regulating, and the PTC has long been critical of those aspects. However, we believe that reforms may be made within the current system to increase transparency, public accountability and, ultimately, a more accurate, more useful ratings system for parents and families.

“Since this is an entirely voluntary system, the Parents Television Council calls upon you, both as President and CEO of a key industry member and as current chairman of the Oversight Monitoring Board to implement the following reforms:

1)    Commit to transparency by disclosing the membership and deliberation schedule of the Oversight Monitoring Board
2)    Commit to public accountability by opening the deliberations of the committee to the public, what standards are used to help create a more useful system
3)    Make provisions to allow for more streamlined communication between the committee and the public, including a public relations campaign designed to inform the public about the committee and its role in improving the ratings system
4)    Disclose what dealings the committee has within and among Standards and Practices Departments among different networks to help ensure ratings consistency an accuracy among them
5)    Disclose what information the committee gives to the FCC as promised in the original Report and Order which established the FCC’s oversight of the system in compliance with the Telecommunications Act of 1996
6)    Disclose what programs’ ratings have been impacted by past committee action and how did the industry inform viewers that a change was made”

The full letter can be read here:

Read more about Ratings Reform here:

Comment on Twitter at #RatingsReform.

The Parents Television Council® ( is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members and 57 chapters across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC™ also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families. Visit the new PTC Watchdog Blog at Follow the PTC on Twitter: @ThePTC.

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