Study finds fault with rating code

CBS named most violent network

WASHINGTON — TV and movie industry content codes deem most violent movies as acceptable for teen audiences, according to a study released Thursday by a Washington-based public interest group.

The Center for Media and Public Affairs report, “I’m Okay, You’re Dead!,” found that 50 of the top grossing movies in 1998 contained a total of 2,319 violent scenes and 1,377 included “serious violence.” The report also noted that the top 10 movies included almost two-thirds of all scenes of serious violence.

The report said “Saving Private Ryan” was the most violent movie, with 262 scenes of serious violence, but that it included acts of violence that had “redeeming social” and “artistic” values.

According to the report, five of the 10 most violent movies carry a PG rating.

The researchers also said CBS was the most violent network, with an average of 10 serious acts of violence per episode. USA came in second with an average of eight violent acts per episode. The report also claimed that most violent TV series are rated TV-PG.

Neither CBS nor the Motion Picture Assn. of America were willing to comment on the study.

The report is the latest study that tabulates incidents of violence and/or sex on television. Other reports have also found that violent programming is prevalent on TV, but industry execs often have questioned the methodology of researchers. Some studies say that absurd and comedic violence found in cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny is just as troubling as the gun play and fisticuffs on “Walker, Texas Ranger.”

Center for Media and Public Affairs president Robert Lichter criticized the current content codes used by the TV and movie industries, saying in many cases it appears that the content labels were decided by a coin toss.

“Hollywood doesn’t just show violence, they merchandise it,” Lichter added.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating accusations that the entertainment industry is marketing adult-oriented entertainment to children. The FTC study, which can use subpoenaed documents, is supposed to be wrapped up within a year.