The current, six-tiered ratings for TV content will turn 15 years old on Jan. 1.
In advance of that anniversary, Parents Television Council voiced its displeasure with the current system in a two-page letter to every member of Congress. Dated Sept. 19, that letter reads in part, “January 2013 will mark the 15-year anniversary of the initial proposal by the television industry of the existing system for rating television programming to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). After 15 years of a poorly conceived, poorly executed, poorly overseen system, it is time to give American families more tools and more choices to contain the flow of objectionable entertainment content entering their homes. The television content rating system is in urgent need of substantial reform.”
For her part, Henson is no fan of the existing rating system — and yet she also acknowledges it might be the best option moving forward because “it took many years for parents to feel comfortable and aware of the current rating system, and there was a very low rate of adoption and utility with the existing rating system.” She advocates for an oversight mechanism to augment the current ratings system wherein an independent auditor or industry board could hold broadcasters responsible for the ratings they dole out.
The worst possible outcome, Henson explains, would be to do nothing.
“Since the advent of the TV rating system, the rate at which TV has grown coarser has consistently accelerated, and I think they’re using the ratings as cover,” she said. “They’re essentially saying, ‘Hey, we warned you it was going to be there — so if your kid saw something you didn’t want them to see, that’s your fault, not ours.’
“We can’t allow that to happen; we need to push back on the industry to not just label the offensive content, but to dial back the offensive content.”
J.G. Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-236-6051.
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