Congress Directs FCC to Review TV Ratings

Turns out Congress has mandated a review of the TV ratings system.

The Parents Television Council had called on the FCC to undertake the review last week. Congress included a provision to that effect in the omnibus 2019 Appropriations Bill that passed last week, averting another government shutdown and launching the review.

"The FCC is directed to report to the Committees on Appropriations of the House and Senate within 90 days of enactment of this Act on the extent to which the rating system matches the video content that is being shown and the ability of the TV Parental Guidelines Oversight Monitoring Board to address public concerns," a summary of the voluminous bill's contents points out.

Related: PTC Asks FCC to Overhaul Content Ratings

“Finally, after more than 20 years, Congress is addressing the needs of families and the welfare of children by formally calling for the first-ever regulatory review of the TV Content Ratings System and its ostensible oversight," said PTC president Tim Winter. "We are elated that this important legislative wording was adopted as part of the appropriations bill that funds the federal government for this fiscal year."

PTC has been lobbying for a TV ratings revamp for years, saying there are virtually no shows rated as suitable for the whole family in prime time, that shows are being mis-rated and that networks rating their own shows has always been problematic and an inherent conflict of interest. 

That effort has included joining with other groups to ask the FCC to overhaul the system.

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.