Distribs take small-screen ratings in stride

NEW ORLEANS – After vigorously fighting a TV content code for more than a decade, distributors at NATPE were blase and indifferent to the new program ratings system.

“It really isn’t a concern at this point, it’s a broadcaster issue because it affects their immediate constituency,” said Carsey-Werner’s Peter Tortorici, partner and exec VP.

“My only worry about the ratings system is that someone decides to use it as a weapon in the marketplace,” said Tortorici, who added that ratings will make it easier for special interest groups to attack specific shows. The television industry began putting the voluntary effort into effect Jan. 1.

King World and Paramount are still at odds with other members of the industry ratings effort over the rating of tabmags. KW insists that “Inside Edition” and “American Journal” are newsmagazines and therefore qualify for exemption from the ratings system. Par is not rating “Hard Copy” either.

Several producers said confusion is seemingly rampant at stations that are having trouble deciding which programs must be rated and what those ratings should be.

Although Saban has not yet rated its kids shows such as “Samurai Pizza Cats,” “Masked Rider” and “DragonBall Z,” some stations are tagging the programs at the local level, according to Saban exec VP Peter Schmid. Schmid said the shows will be designated as suitable for children 7 years of age or older. The TV-Y7 rating will bring consistency to Saban’s ratings, which stations are giving both TV-Y and TV-Y7, Schmid said. The TV-Y rating is for programs suitable for kids ages 2-7.

According to Schmid, buyers are not even curious about a show’s content rating.

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