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Group: Children's TV isn't kid stuff

More than 3,400 violent or objectionable acts seen in 440 hours

From Michael McManus
CNN

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Characters from the cartoon "Teen Titans" appear at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Carnival in May 2005.

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Entertainment (general)
Television
L. Brent Bozell

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Children's television programs are filled with violent, disrespectful and aggressive behaviors, according to a study commissioned by a conservative television watchdog group.

The Parents Television Council said it monitored more than 440 hours of programming geared toward young people and found 3,488 incidents of violence, an average of almost eight incidents an hour.

The group, headed by L. Brent Bozell, said "there is more violence aimed directly at young children than at adults on television today."

The study reported that the Cartoon Network -- which is owned by Time Warner, the parent company of CNN -- had the highest number of violent incidents with 1,330, or 5 incidents per episode.

The ABC Family Channel had only 318 violent incidents, but had an average of almost 11 per episode, the highest of the networks surveyed.

The report said the WB cartoon "Teen Titans" had the most violence with 21.7 incidents per episode. Time Warner also owns The WB.

"Too often we dismiss violence in children's programming as inconsequential," the study said.

It also pointed out that although cartoons have been historically violent, what's changed is the level of violence, and it called the results "ubiquitous, often sinister, and in many cases frighteningly realistic."

The Disney Channel had the lowest number of violent incidents at 0.95 per episode, the report said. Both ABC Family Channel and Disney Channel are owned by the Disney Co.

The group studied four broadcast networks (ABC, Fox, NBC and The WB) and four cable networks (Cartoon Network, the Disney Channel, ABC Family and Nickelodeon) over a three-week period in the summer of 2005. The study focused on after-school and Saturday morning programming.

The report also criticized the networks for airing children's programs with questionable language -- such as "stupid," "loser" and "butt" -- as well as sexual innuendo, insults, bullying and putdowns.

TV Watch, a group backed by television networks that opposes Washington oversight of programming, criticized the report as sensationalized.

Jim Dyke, executive director of the organization, said parental intervention would be enough to counter violence on children's TV shows.

"Parents relying on ubiquitous and user-friendly technology, ratings information and their own good judgment to manage TV is the best approach, not increased government control," he said.

The nation's first major study on the effects of TV violence was a 1972 U.S. surgeon general's report that said, "Televised violence, indeed, does have an adverse effect on certain members of our society."

Professional health organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association and American Medical Association have concluded data show at least a casual link between extensive TV viewership and aggression in children.

The Parents Television Council said its report included everything from characters running into a door to depictions of death, fire and off-screen violence that is heard but not seen.

When cartoons were taken out of the numbers, the study still found 2,794 instances of violence, or 6.3 an hour, the group said.

On its Web site, the Parents Television Council says its primary mission is "to promote and restore responsibility and decency to the entertainment industry in answer to America's demand for positive, family-oriented television programming."

The group recently applauded the ABC television network for adding a tape delay during this year's Super Bowl.

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