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PTC Calls for Reconstituting Content Ratings Board

The Parents Television Counsel said it has seen no changes to the TV ratings system or its "ostensible oversight" by the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board (TVOMB) and wants the board disbanded and Congress to vet the current age-based ratings definitions.

That came in a letter from PTC president Tim Winter to current TVOMB head Michael Powell, president of NCTA-The Internet & Television Association (board leadership rotates among the head of NCTA, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Motion Picture Association of America).

Related: PTC Presses Powell for Content Ratings Board Changes

Winter pointed out that it has been almost six months since the FCC released a report to Congress on the content ratings system and TVOMB oversight. The FCC said TVOMB had not been sufficiently accessible or transparent, but there was not enough evidence to conclude the ratings were inaccurate because the FCC did not have enough time to make that determination and meet its congressional deadline for the report.

Winter cited Powell's commitment to "continuing to provide parents" with resources necessary to make informed choices about TV viewing in their homes.

Related: Trade Groups Say TV Ratings Work as Intended

Winter said he had been anticipating changes in view of the FCC report and Powell assertion, but was still looking for them.

"We have not seen any changes at all to the composition of the board, no public notices about upcoming meetings or proceedings, nor any public statements about proactive steps the TVOMB will undertake to improve ratings accuracy going forward," he said.

As a result, Winter told Powell, he was calling for the board to be disbanded and reconstituted with more representative membership, and wants Congress to hold a hearing or symposium to review for accuracy the age-based ratings currently in use.

PTC has long argued the ratings do not accurately reflect the content, with TV networks "packing substantially more profanity and violence into youth-rated shows," Winter said.

Related: Media Researchers Say Don't Let Media Rate Own Content

"Government intervention should always be a last, rather than a first recourse," he said. "But given the TVOMB’s staunch refusal to meaningfully address any public concerns about the harmful content children are repeatedly exposed to because of a fatally flawed system; we are left with no other path forward."

Powell had no comment, but the board issued the following statement:

“Research confirms that the vast majority of parents are satisfied with the accuracy of the well-established TV ratings system and view the TV Parental Guidelines as a valuable tool when determining which television programs are appropriate for their children. According to a national survey conducted by Hart Research Associates on behalf of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board in August 2018, nearly 95 percent of parents are satisfied with the accuracy of ratings for TV shows. The Monitoring Board regularly reviews and updates our policies in light of viewer feedback, and, both prior to and in light of the recommendations put forth by the FCC, has completed several actions related to improving awareness of the TV ratings and our role in overseeing the ratings and addressing public concern.”