Parents Television Council Blasts Torture Scene in ABC’s Scandal

Groups calls for reform in TV ratings system

ABC could have had better timing. On the same night the entertainment industry was meeting with VP Joe Biden to discuss media violence, the network aired an episode of Scandal that included a graphic, three-minute torture scene.

The coincidence didn't get by the Parents Television Council, which pointed to the episode as another example of a "failed [TV] ratings system." ABC hasn't replied to a request for comment.

Although the ABC broadcast aired an advisory at the beginning of the program, the Scandal episode did not carry a TV-MA rating.

PTC's president Tim Winter described the scene in Scandal as "intense, explicit and bloody.

"This decision [to air an advisory at the beginning of the program] suggests the network understood that the show was inappropriate for children, and they should have rated it as TV-MA," Winter said in a statement. "Unless and until the content rating system is accurate, consistent, transparent and accountable to the public, parents and families simply cannot rely on the industry to tell the truth, especially when the industry faces an inherent conflict of interest to rate programs accurately."

The PTC didn't stop with ABC, accusing all the TV networks of paying lip service to reforming the TV ratings system.

"While ABC’s conduct in this instance is particularly outrageous, every network shares some level of culpability," Winter said. 

The PTC has been hammering away at the TV ratings self-regulatory system for years. Whether the White House will put pressure on the TV networks to reform the system as part of a broad set of recommendations to curb gun violence is unclear. President Obama said he would release his final proposal later this week.