TV Rating System Essay, Research Paper
Constructing and using a wide spread television rating system was a wise decision made by the television industry. This television rating system is good and should be used by parents who have impressionable children who watch lots of television programs. Parents are able to tell how exciting and action packed a television show is, as well as controlling the amount of violence that their children see, and to help stop the negative effects that television has on children and their parents.
Whenever a person begins to watch a television program in today’s world, they will see a little box appear in the corner of their television screen. This box contains number and / or letters which tell the viewing audience what age group of people that the following program is, for lack of a better word, “O.K.” Some possibilities for the number / letter combination include Y, Y-7, TV-G, TV-PG, TV-14, and TV-MA or TV-M. The box seen with a Y means that the following program is made for all children and that it contains no violence, strong language, or sexual content. A Y-7 means that the following program is intended for children 7 years and older. TV-G means that the following program is intended for all viewing audiences. TV-PG means that parental is suggested and may contain some coarse language, violence, and suggestive talk or situations. TV-14 means that the following program is just not suitable for children under the age of 14 and that it may contain sophisticated themes, strong language, and some sexual content. TV-MA or TV-M stands for mature audiences only and that the following program contains profane language, graphic violence, and explicit sexual content. (Televisionplus, pg. 4)
Some people are interested only in the content that makes a show rated TV-PG, TV-14, or TV-MA. By flipping through the channels, it is possible to see if a program is action packed or not, thanks to this little box. Normally, these people have very few other things to do and find amusement by watching the most action filled television program. They believe that unless a television program is rated TV-PG, TV-14, or TV-MA, that the program must be very boring and flat, because most children’s programs are rated with very low ratings or even no ratings at all. Studies in early 1996 show that “…Young boys, ages 10 to 14, are actually more likely to want to watch programs that have parental
discretion warnings” (Marks, pg. 1).
Some producing companies will gain viewers and money by having their programs rated by the television rating system. Parents who have to work and have little time to watch television with their families, will be more apt to suggest to their children to watch “educational” or “quality” programs rated with low ratings. Just by flipping through the television guide, parents can look at programs and see which ones are rated Y, Y-7, or TV-G. When their children watch these programs, most of the commercials shown during this time will be focused on selling children’s toys, clothes, and other such related items. When children ask for these products, sales will increase for them. Companies that make these products will intern believe that their increased advertisement has played a role in the increase sales, and therefore purchase more advertising time during children television programs. It is possible, however, for companies that make fighting and violence based children’s television programs to loose viewers and money. When parents become aware of the fact that these television shows are rated higher than they had expected them to be, they will disapprove of their children watching these television programs. The sales of products that are being advertised during this time will also decrease. Eventually toy companies will be forced to pull their ad and place it someplace else. Before long, television programs that were intended for children, who’s plot is about violence and fighting, will go off of the air, as long as they maintain a higher rating than is approved for children by the children’s parents. Once other violent show producers see that their competitors are out of business, they will at first see this as a time to promote their program and start to air it frequently. When the persistence of parents of America’s future leaders keep disallowing their children to watch such programs, eventually all of television producers will be forced to either go out of business, reduce the violence in their programs, or increase the intended viewing audience age and maturity level. Because the average child watches about 25 hours of television a week (Silver, pg. 55) it is necessary to put a limit on the television programs that they watch because of the vast amount of violence in them. It has been estimated that by age 18, a child will have seen over 200,000 acts of violence on television, which includes over 40,000 murders. Every hour of prime time television includes 6 to 8 acts of violence (Zuckerman, pg. 64). When higher ratings are placed on common television shows that have vast amounts of violence and sexual related activities in them, parents will become curios as to why these shows have ratings such as what they do. A poll conducted by the US News and World Report reported that 373 parents who have children under the age of 18, 10% of them will not allow them to watch MTV. 9% of those polled have banned “The Simpsons” from their household, while 73% of parents are concerned about violence in general. The new “V” chip that is placed into all new television sets beginning in 1998 should help to block out some of the violence on television programs watched by youngsters because according to the same poll, 9% of parents do not watch any television with their children.
The effects that television has on children can be terrible and sometimes even deadly. Because children spend so much time in front of their television sets, they will have a tendency to become violent later in life if violence is all that they watch on television. “One Indiana school board had to issue an advisory that there is no such thing as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that the children had been crawling down storm drains to reach” (Zuckerman, pg. 64). On a play ground during recess, two second grade boys punched and kicked a first grade girl to death. They thought that they were playing “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”. Allowing children to see all of this violence at an early age is wrong. By using the new television rating system, parents should be able to narrow down what their children see on television. When parents do this, not as much trash goes into and retains in a child’s head while they are still growing and their brain is developing.
Because the television rating system was not carried out by the government, some television programs might be incorrectly rated. If an educational show about STDs or another culture is shown on television, it is more likely to get a higher rating if it shows any naked body parts. Just because of this rating, some parents will not allow their children to watch it. These children are missing out on educational values which could be of great importance to them in the future. When Shindler’s List was on television, it had a rating of TV-MA. My sister was so excited about watching it until she found out that it was rated TV-MA. She threw a big fit and stomped off into her room. She said that she did not want to watch it just because of it’s rating. We tried to explain to her why it was rated TV-MA and that we would change the channel when the bad parts came on. If only a slight modification was made to the television rating system, it would be greatly improved.
Because of it’s good intentions and values, parents should make use of the television rating system. Many people have been involved in creating, organizing, and carrying out the television rating system, so we as a society should at least pay attention to it and try to appreciate it.
Baseman, Gary. “Brother Nielson is watching.” TIME June 12, 1989: pg. 61
Zuckerman, Mortimer. “The Victims of TV Violence.” U.S. News & World Report August 2, 1993: pg. 64
Silver, Marc. “Ready For Prime Time?” U.S. News & World Report September 9, 1996: pg. 54-59
Staff. The Columbus Dispatch Televiewplus March 30, 1997: pg. 4
NewsBank’s NewsSource. Christian Science Monitor “Canada to Join US in TV-Rating System” April 4, 1996: pg. 4
NewsBank’s NewsSource. Christian Science Monitor “TV Industry Problem: Rating 400,000 Shows Look Out Power Rangers” March 1, 1996: pg. 3
National PTA. “Parents Want Content, Not Advice, In Television Rating”. (21 Nov, 1996): 3 pages. On-Line. Internet. March 3,1997. WWW.pta.org/pta/issues/tvrels.htm
Antonucci, Mike. “Children’s group seeks TV rating system”. (19 June 1996): 2 pages On-Line. Internet. March 24, 1997 WWW.cgi.sjmercury.com/business/chips/vchip619.htm