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PTC, Sen. Dodd Meet Over TV Ratings

Parents Television Council President Tim Winter met with Motion Picture Association of America President Sen. Chris Dodd this week to talk about PTC's concerns with the TV ratings system. Dodd is chairman of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, a position that rotates among the heads of MPAA, the National Association of Broadcasters and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

PTC says there are widespread, systemic problems with the ratings and has called on the FCC and Congress to revamp it.

PTC says that shows are being mis-rated and that networks rating their own shows has always been problematic and an inherent conflict of interest.

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According to Winter, Dodd agreed that it was important to continue to improve the system and asked for his recommendations. MPAA had no comment, but a source familiar with the meeting confirmed it had taken place.

Winter followed up the meeting with a letter offering up his recommendation.

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"The most important recommendation I could possibly make is for you to join me in calling for an open, public hearing to evaluate – through the lens of twenty years of its operation – the positive and negative aspects of the current system; and to provide a forum to evaluate ways to improve it," Winter wrote Dodd. "[T]he best way to improve the system, and the right way to improve the system, is to include experts from across the nation who could publicly and openly bring their unique insights," Winter told Dodd. "The system has been cloaked in secrecy for its entire existence.  It is time to open it up for a healthy and robust evaluation."

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who was a driving force behind the TV ratings/V-chip system, has been holding meetings with various groups about the issue and could weigh in.

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.