The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on May 18, 1997 · Page 60
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 60

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, May 18, 1997
Page 60
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SURVEY RESULTS Readers rate TV worse than ever A national survey shows that thousands find the new rating system falls short. BY M. FRANCO SALVOZA T ELEVISION TODAY IS more offensive than ever, say the overwhelming majority — 92% — of readers who took part in USA WEEKEND'S third survey measuring attitudes toward the small screen. More than 21,600 readers responded to the non-scientific write-in survey examining TV and the first-ever system for rating the content of shows, launched in January. Readers say: • Content is a big concern. 94% are "very" or "somewhat" concerned about the content of TV programs; On Monday, parents, TV executives and politicians have a chance to face off at a town meeting on the controversial, 18-week-old rating system. 95% say they are most concerned about violence, sexual content and vulgarity, numbers consistent with past USA WEEKEND surveys about TV. • Content ratings have not made much difference. 79% think rating TV content is "a good idea," yet 59% say the current rating system hasn't influenced their viewing habits. . • Content ratings lack credibility. 81 % do not trust the TV industry to rate its At www.usaweekend.coni, you can: • Get the complete results for each question in USA WEEKEND'S TV survey. • Join other online users in rating prime-time shows for our instantly updating "Watch List." • Take our Quick Poll on what should happen now: How should programs be rated? And tell us the good side of the TV story: What shows rise above the rest? own shows, as it now does. Instead, 90% think either viewers or an independent panel should. Jim McConnell, 45, of Vancouver, Wash., a father of six, believes the system is "biased." He adds: "The ratings don't fit." • The system is wrong. Almost no one surveyed — a nominal 3% — says the ratings should be based on age- appropriateness, the gist of the current system, which uses symbols such as TV-Y7 (appropriate for children 7 and older) and TV-14 (unsuitable for children under 14). Instead, 65% say ratings should include content labels such as "S" for sex, "V" for violence and "11' for coarse language. •The system is confusing. What do the symbols mean, anyway? 89% of respondents say they are "very" or "somewhat" familiar with the system, although 51% don't think the TV industry has explained it well enough. Anne Reynolds, a mother of two from Berthoud, Colo., who responded to the survey, wants "more detail. TV-14 — what does that mean? Why is it like that — the violence? The sex? What?" • Ratings are wrong, too. Readers say the ratings for seven of the top 10 Nielsen-rated shows are too lenient. The survey results drew a swift response from Jack Valenti, president of the Motion Picture Association of America and the person who designed the rating system. "I'm not all that amazed by the findings," Valenti told USA WEEKEND. "All our [rating] system does is give parents additional information to help them supervise Htr* are toy USAWEEKIND'S write-In sumy. say they don't try* t the TV Industry to rate Its own proffams. How concerned ire you about the content of TV? 81% Very concerned 13% Somewhat concerned 4% Not at all concerned Todsyt TV shows: 92% Are more offensive than ever 7% Haven't changed 1% Are less offensive than ever Which do you think the rating should be based on? 32% Actual content 3% Age-appropriateness, the current system 65% A combination of the above The now TV rathifs art: 53% Somewhat helpful 23% Not very helpful lt% Very helpful 8% Don't know Has a particular rating made you: 37% Stop watching a show 4% Start watching a show 59% Not influenced you at all Do you trust tho TV Industry to rate Its own shows accurately? 81% No 19% Yes Who tnoutd dtternlne tharatinfs? 49% Viewers 41% An independent pane) Readers approve of Home Improvemenfs TV-G rating. 36% Ql leader respondents liayp school-age children at home.- » mgarity aw women. the TV watching of their children." The survey findings come at a crucial moment. The Federal Communications Commission wraps up its public comment period on the TV rating system this week and has scheduled a hearing for June 4; Congress is set to vote any day on a bill to require violence-free early- evening hours. And at 8 p.m. ET Monday, C-SPAN will broadcast live from Peoria, III., a town meeting on TV ratings. (USA WEEKEND is forwarding complete survey results to the FCC, Valenti and congressional leaders.) Overwhelmingly, readers say they want some form of ratings. And 90% say they "usually" or "sometimes" see the rating symbols that appear briefly in the upper left corner at the start of TV shows. But 65% say neither the location nor the amount of time the symbols spend onscreen is adequate. Case in point: After Leah Mitts, 27, of Everett, Wash., tuned in late to watch the NBC Sunday night sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun with her children, a character muttered a sexual innuendo. "I said, 'Whoops! Time to 2O USA WEEKEND • May 16-10,1987

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