PTC Pans Comic-Themed Broadcast Shows

The Parents Television Council is arguing that Batman, Green Arrow and even Archie are not safe TV viewing for kids.

The group has released a seven-year content analysis of the spate of comic hero-themed broadcast TV shows that followed the success of movie franchises based on iconic comic book heroes.

PTC said they found 6,000 incidents of violence, 500 deaths and some 2,000 profanities.

"Archie is now having sex in the backseat of a car with his high school teacher, Miss Grundy. And keep in mind that this is on broadcast television," said PTC president Tim Winter, himself a former network  exec. "Beheadings, profanity, illegal drug use, and even scrotal references are now the norm."

The criticism echoed ones leveled at comics back in the 1950's, when Congress stepped in and the industry stepped up its self-regulation with a comics seal of approval and a move away from lurid war and Tales of the Crypt genres to comics more like, well, Archie.

PTC did find some positive role models among the caped and tight-suited crusaders. "[O]ur study shows that Supergirl and The Flash are the ‘safest’ for kids to watch and serve as good examples for the broadcast industry to emulate," said said Dr. Christopher Gildemeister, PTC's head of research and the study's author.

PTC looked at 239 episodes of comic book-themed prime-time programming on broadcast networks during November, February, and May sweeps from November 2012 to May 2019. That came to 293 episodes, and more than 300 hours of programming analyzed. 

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.