Are the Television Ratings Really Useful?

June 3, 2009
By Anonymous

The motion picture ratings, as well as video game ratings are widely understood and are accurately rated by a specific company in charge of administering these content ratings. However, the television ratings that are appointed to various television programs that air on television aren’t so controlled.

The television ratings that are applied to a program that airs on broadcast TV are chosen by the television station that airs the program. This means that whatever the television station decides the show should be rated is what the applied rating will be. Therefore, a program that airs on one television station may get an entirely different rating on a different channel. This makes it difficult for one to know the actual offensive content that may be in the program. There are also cases in which a television station does not give an appropriate rating and omits a “descriptor” for the show. A “descriptor” is a letter that is applied under the ratings of TV-Y7, TV-PG, TV-14, and TV-MA to tell what offensive content is found within the program. An example of a television station misrating a program involves mild violence with a minor amount of blood, but failing to carry a “V” descriptor under the TV-PG rating. Other times a television station overrates a program and makes the content seem worse than it really is. For example, if there is brief and mild profanity contained within a program, but the rating applied is “TV-14 L”, it gives the viewer a wrong impression on the program and may lose viewers who are more conservative.

One of the worst problems with this rating system is what content is appropriate for each rating. On one station there may be a bloodless punch to the face that earns a “TV-PG V” rating, but another television station may allow bloody stabbings in their “TV-PG V” ratings. Therefore, while the television rating system may give the viewer some idea of the offensive content that is in the program, a viewer should always be prepared to see something that they may find offensive, even if the show is a so-called “family” program.

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