PTC Seeks FCC Review of TV Ratings System

The Parents Television Council is calling on FCC chair Ajit Pai to review the commission's implementation of the 1998 legislation implementing the V-chip, TV content ratings system and the Parental Oversight Monitoring Board meant, which is meant to ensure the ratings are consistently applied.

That came in a letter to Pai from PTC president Tim Winter, who pointed out that Feb. 14 is the one-year anniversary of the Parkland, Fla., (Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School School) shooting that took the lives of 17.

Related: PTC Pushed White House to Vet Violence on Networks

President Trump referred to media violence in the aftermath of that shooting, Winter pointed out, and convened a March meeting with video game execs and media advocates--including PTC--to talk about the impact of violent entertainment, though PTC itself said that meeting was confined to violent video games rather than TV content.

But given that the Department of Education's Safe Schools Commission (also a product of Parkland) raised the issue of parents having accurate ratings in helping decide what is appropriate for their children, PTC says, a formal FCC review of the content-ratings system (and the V-chip technology that allows for ratings-based screening via the TV set), is needed, particularly since there has never been one. 

Related: PTC Says Streaming Services Lack Robust Parental Controls

"What the entertainment industry does is offer dress rehearsals for gun violence on TV, in the movies, in violent video games, and then proceeds to rate shows with graphic violence and gun violence as appropriate for children," Winter wrote. "This is clear evidence that the entertainment industry contributes to marketing a culture of violence to children."

PTC said it has been documenting inaccurately rated TV shows for two decades and is ready to offer that expertise to the FCC.

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.