The leader of an education organization that advocates for responsible entertainment is speaking out about what he says is an unprecedented level of raunchy and inappropriate television content airing during the primetime hours.
Parents Television Council
"What we're seeing, especially on primetime, is content that never, ever would have made it to air on primetime broadcast TV as recently as five or 10 years ago," Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, recently told TheBlaze. "The HBOs and Cinemaxes and Showtimes of the world are trying to compete against the Internet."
But he said the dynamic goes well beyond that, with basic cable companies also trying to battle "the HBOs of the world" and with broadcast networks joining in on the content war.
Winter said that constant pressure on all of these fronts has led to increasingly graphic content and profanity coming on TV earlier and earlier in the day, calling the situation "very concerning."
While some in Hollywood might blame parents for allowing their children to watch inappropriate programs, Winter also decried what he believes is an ineffective television ratings system — one that he said does not actually educate parents on what should be avoided.
"Every single TV series on broadcast TV is rated as appropriate for a 14-year-old child or younger by the industry's own tools for parents," he said. "The TV networks decide for themselves what the age content rating is. There is no regulatory oversight."
But it's not only about programming, as inappropriate advertisements for shows have also posed problems, he said.
Winter specifically pointed to a recent scene from the hit show "Scandal" that aired on ABC immediately following the "Charlie Brown" Halloween special last month — an incident that he recently railed against.
The infusion of all of this explicit content into the mainstream is extremely concerning, Winter argued, noting that some adults may even be getting desensitized to it.
"We look at this as a very classic case of the frog and the kettle where the boiling water heats up and you don't even notice, because they whole environment is becoming more explicit," he said.
Winter also noted a recent study that found that parents are possibly becoming desensitized to explicit content and that, in turn, they may be allowing their young kids to watch inappropriate shows.
"I really fear for the next generation of children who are consuming TV and seeing morals and behavior without consequences," Winter said.
The safe entertainment advocate noted that family friendly shows like "The Middle" and "7th Heaven" have traditionally done well, despite their rare presence in Hollywood.
"In the history of entertainment media going back a couple thousands years, a story that is well-directed, well-acted usually is successful," Winter said. "That is every bit of true today as it has always been."
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And as for those who claim that the public craves raunchy content, he noted that the top broadcast shows are generally more benign like NFL football, "The Voice," "Dancing With the Stars" and other similar programs. Nielsen ratings for the week of October 20 corroborate Winter's claim.
"I think that it's a fase premise that people want more of this [raunchy content]," he said.
Part of the problem is that the entertainment industry is led by people who "are inherently narcissistic" and "overwhelmingly consumed by ego," he said.
Hollywood latches on to someone who is creating edgy content and they then become the "it" person for a time until someone else comes along. Right now, Winter said that person is Shonda Rhimes, creator and/or producer of "Scandal," "Grey's Anatomy" and "How to Get Away With Murder."
Winter encouraged parents to get involved and to make their voices heard when they see unpalatable content airing at inappropriate times. In addition to encouraging them to be involved in their kids' media consumption, he encouraged them to voice their complaints to the FCC.
"It's unfortunate today that a parent cannot allow a child to sit in front of the TV during the 8 p.m. hour," he added.
Find out more about the Parents Television Council here.
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