Prime-Time Sex Debate Heats Up

NEW YORK TV Watch, an organization that promotes parental control as opposed to increased governmental regulation of television, slammed a new Parents Television Council study for using “faulty analysis, biased methodology and suspect omissions to influence the debate and raise money.”

Said TV Watch: “Over the years, the PTC has released numerous studies aimed at influencing lawmakers and regulators to believe that parents aren’t competent enough to make television viewing decisions for their own families.” The group said its data shows that 65 percent of parents monitor their children’s TV use and parents believe they have more influence over their children than the media does.

The debate heated up this week when the PTC released a study that said broadcast television networks favor adultery and promiscuity over marital intimacy. The group said: “Many in Hollywood are actively seeking to undermine marriage by consistently showing it in a negative manner.”

The PTC examined all scripted prime-time entertainment programs on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW during the first four weeks of the 2007-08 TV season, a total of 207.5 program hours.

Of all the networks, PTC said ABC had the most references to marital sex, “but many of the references were negative.” It said of NBC, “There were many depictions of adults having sex with minors as there were scenes implying or depicting sex between married partners.” And, “references to incest, pedophilia, partner swapping, prostitution, threesomes, transsexuals/transvestites, bestiality and necrophilia combined outnumbered references to sex in marriage on NBC by a ratio of 27 to 1, according to the PTC study.

The PTC also reported that on the five broadcast networks, during the four-week period monitored, there were 74 references to masturbation, oral sex, anal sex, manual stimulation, sex toys and bondage or kinky or fetishistic sex.

The PTC also reported that the “family hour” of TV viewing, “where one might expect broadcasters to be more careful with messages they are communicating to impressionable youngsters,” contained the highest frequency of references to non-marital sex.”

PTC president Tim Winter said, “Children and teens are now exposed to a host of sexual behaviors that less than a generation ago would have been considered off-limits for broadcast television.”

He called on families to “raise their collective voice against the tide of graphic sexual content invading their homes.” And he said advertisers “need to reconsider their role as underwriters of such material, and whether they want to continue associating their brand names and hard-earned corporate images with salacious sexual content.”

Officials at the broadcast networks were not available for comment, but have previously rarely responded to PTC statements and reports.