PTC Puts A Bad ‘Rap’ On BET, MTV

A media watchdog group Thursday blasted BET and MTV for airing music videos with explicit adult content that reach a large audience of children and teens during the day.

In its 21-page “The Rap on Rap” report, the Parents Television Council said it found a deluge of what it characterized as “offensive/adult content” in the three music-video shows it monitored on BET and MTV during periods in December and March. 

PTC said that it found in March that children watching BET's Rap City and 106 & Park and MTV's Sucker Free on MTV  shows were bombarded with adult content -- sex, violence, profanities or obscenities -- once every 38 seconds.

“What BET and MTV are offering to children on these three programs is full of offensive and vulgar content, the likes of which cannot yet be found on broadcast television," PTC president Tim Winter said in a statement. "Being in the trenches fighting for better indecency enforcement and cable choice on behalf of millions of American families, we thought we’d seen it all – but even we were taken aback by what we found in the music video programs on MTV and BET that are targeted directly at impressionable children.”

“BET and MTV are assaulting children with content that is full of sexually charged images, explicit language, portrayals of violence, drug use, drug sales and other illegal activity, " Winter continued. "Not only that, but we discovered that some offensive words aired only in muted form in December 2007, but as recent as March 2008, these same words were not muted.

The PTC released the results of its study at a press conference in Washington with the Rev. Delman Coates, organizer of the “Enough is Enough Campaign for Corporate Responsibility in Entertainment.” Coates had asked the PTC to conduct the study, which made four recommendations regarding the issue of the music-video content.

A BET spokeswoman said the network would hold off comment until it reviews the PTC report. MTV couldn’t be reached for comment by presstime.

The PTC tracked BET’s RapCity and 106 & Park, as well as MTV’s Sucker Free on MTV, which air during the afternoon or early morning.

The PTC found there were 1,342 instances of “offensive/adult” content in the 14 hours of programming it checked in March, and 1,672 instances in the 27.5 hours of programming it analyzed in December.

The watchdog group broke down the “offensive” content into the categories of sex, explicit language, violence, drug use or sales, and other illegal activity. In the December study period, sex made up the majority, 45%, of the adult content in the analyzed videos; followed by explicit language, 29%; violence, 13%; drugs use or sales, 9%; and other illegal activity, 3%.

The PTC credited MTV “with being slightly more responsible” in assigning parental-guidance ratings for its music-video programs. MTV put a TV-14 rating on Sucker Free for MTV, but the PTC claimed that almost every episode of BET’s 106 & Park and RapCityonly carried a TV-PG rating.

“Excluding one program on BET, neither BET or MTV carried content descriptors that would work in conjunction with the V-Chip to block the programs from coming into the home or to warn parents about the presence of sexual content, suggestive dialogue, violence, or foul language," said Winter. "This is a major problem for parents who are told repeatedly to rely on their V-chips to protect their children."

The study cites a letter that it said BET CEO Debra Lee wrote to the Rev. Coates regarding the network’s programming guidelines.

Lee’s letter said that BET doesn’t air programming that endorses illegal drugs or gratuitous violence; that the network has a list of words that are forbidden from use on the channel; and that it doesn’t air music videos that have graphic sexual activity or violence.

“This study raises serious questions regarding the thresholds for which those guidelines are implemented,” the PTC said. “Only one show within the 41.5-hour study period…received a TV rating that included content descriptors warning parents of explicit content. The PTC and others wish to better understand the methods and definitions used to establish criterion for determining which levels of content quality [are] to be labeled ‘graphic or excessive sexual activity or violence.’”

The PTC made four recommendations in its “Rap on Rap” report. First, it said parents needs to be more involved in monitoring their kids’ media consumption. Second, advertisers need to be held accountable for the content their dollars pay for, according to the PTC.

Third, “consumers must demand and receive the right to pick and choose – and pay for – only the channels they want coming into their homes,” the PTC said.

And fourth and finally, the watchdog group said. “We must demand from the networks an accurate, transparent, and consistent ratings system that will give parents the adequate tolls to protect their children from inappropriate content.”

The PTC report included detailed charts of specific expletives, some of which were muted on-air, and how often they were said during the three BET and MTV shows.

The watchdog group broke down the sexual content and violence into specific categories, and then listed how many times those categories appeared on the tracked music-video shows.

For example, some of categories under sex included anatomical references, condoms, sexual innuendo, strippers and suggestive dancing. 

Among the videos PTC found offensive: Snoop Dogg'sSensual Seduction, Ludacris' Down In The Dirty, Gucci Mane's Freaky Gurland DJ Khaled's I'm So Hood and Run DMC's Christmas in Hollis.

 To read the full report, click here