Ratings raise ire

Wildmon plans boycott of mature TV shows

WASHINGTON – One of TV execs’ worst nightmares came true this week when the Tupelo, Miss.-based American Family Assn. announced it would call for a boycott of advertisers who support television shows tagged with a TV-14 or TV-M rating.

The media watchdog group also criticized the age-based TV ratings system adopted by the television industry, which its says will allow the networks to air even more licentious material.

“The only thing this rating system will do is to absolve the networks of any responsibility for the content of their programs. They can put on anything and everything – which they will – and defend themselves by saying, ‘We warned you in advance,’ ” said AFA prexy Donald Wildmon.

Wildmon was also highly critical of the industry’s decision to allow producers to rate their own programs. “No input from the viewing public is allowed. There will be no consistent perspective used in the ratings since hundreds of different individuals will be doing the ratings based on their interest,” said Wildmon.

Dismissive of boycott

Industry execs were dismissive of Wildmon, noting that his calls for boycotts in the past have not been particularly effective. “There is pretty good empirical evidence that none of his boycotts have done anything but raise money for his association,” said CBS senior VP Marty Franks.

Wildmon is currently organizing a boycott against all Disney products and in the past called on consumers to avoid buying products advertised on Steven Bochco’s “NYPD Blue.”

Despite Wildmon’s insistence that he would support a content-based rating system, Franks says no ratings system would pacify the media watchdog group. “They don’t want honesty in a labeling program, they want these programs off the air,” said Franks, adding, “and that is not what we signed up for.”

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