Common Sense: Ratings Promo Campaign Good as Far as It Goes

Common Sense Media CEO James Steyer says the new TV and movie ratings promotion campaign announced Wednesday is good as far as it goes, but it doesn't go far enough.

Common Sense provides reviews and recommendations on family-friendly programming for a host of media companies including Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Disney and Tribune, all members of the associations who collectively announced the new campaign, which include both new PSAs and existing PSAs from the last time a D.C. spotlight was put on content issues.

"We give credit to the entertainment industry for this proactive first step in acknowledging their role in creating content that contributes to the culture of violence in America," Steyer said, although the associations participating in the effort -- National Association of Broadcasters, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, American Cable Association and the Motion Picture Association of America -- have stopped short of acknowledging any causal connection.

Steyer said the campaign stops short of getting at some key issues. "[T]his industry effort puts the onus entirely on parents to screen the media that their kids consume when 75% of America's parents tell us that -- ratings or no ratings -- they have a hard time shielding their kids from viewing violent media," said Steyer. "The PSA campaign is a good start, but it doesn't address the bigger issue of industry's ongoing marketing of age-inappropriate violent content to kids. It's also a glaring omission that the video gaming industry is absent from this initiative, when 77% of parents believe media violence -- including video game violence -- is of concern.

"We hope the next step for the industry will be to support the president's call for more important research into the possible impact of media violence, and at the same time, for the industry to stop marketing violent media to our nation's kids."

Common Sense has been pushing TV nets to stop promoting violent action films in sports programming.

The above-mentioned associations have all said they are willing to be in the conversation about solving real-world violence, and NAB has said it would support research into the impact of media violence on real violence.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.