Motion Picture Association of America chairman Chris Dodd has told the Parents Television Council (PTC) that he takes issue with the characterization of the network standards and practices departments as self-serving, says the role of the TV ratings monitoring board—he is chairman—is not to dictate TV content, and that, according to a survey "soon to be released," 96% of parents said they were "satisfied with the accuracy of the TV ratings."
That signaled Dodd was not looking to vet the process in a public form, as PTC had asked.
Dodd's response came in a letter, supplied by PTC, in response to PTC president Tim Winter's call for a revamp of the broadcast and cable TV ratings system and following a meeting between the two over Winter's concerns that TV ratings are not accurate and the process is systemically flawed.
Dodd said the suggestion that standards & practices departments were self-serving was "inaccurate and not constructive."
Dodd said he would review Winters' case against the ratings but said his goal was to focus on "positive and productive" initiatives, saying he hoped Winter shared his goal to "effectively educate and help parents navigate television content for their children."
"I sincerely appreciate your reply and the additional information you provided," Winter responded to Dodd in his own letter. "Thank you as well for the heads-up about the soon-to-be-released survey undertaken by the TVOMB. We eagerly await perusing the survey data so that we might understand how 96% of parents are satisfied with the accuracy of the TV ratings."
He also addressed Dodd's comment about who was being self-serving, suggesting it was Dodd's characterization that was inaccurate.
"I must respectfully correct your apparent misunderstanding about my appreciation for Network Standards & Practices employees," wrote Winter. "We actually agreed over breakfast that S&P staffers are earnest and hard-working; and I mentioned how I witnessed their dedicated efforts first-hand during my fifteen years at NBC and thereafter. I did not suggest that S&P representatives were self-serving. Rather, I suggested that the entire system itself is self-serving..."
Winter said he did, indeed, share that goal, which was why he wanted, and still wants, a public hearing on the issue.
He could get one, at least in Congress. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who authored the legislation creating the V-chip ratings system, is said to be looking into the issue.
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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.