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Parent org blasts TV’s Family Hour

'Foul language,' sex on the rise in 8p.m.-9p.m. TV primetime

WASHINGTON — The old so-called Family Hour is turning into the red light district, according to a study released Tuesday by a conservative media watchdog group.

“Foul language” and “sexual activity” are on the rise in primetime — at least between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. — when families are most likely to be in the television audience, according to a study released by the Parents Television Council.

In a report titled “The Family Hour: Worse than Ever and Headed for New Lows,” the PTC found that the “per hour average of objectionable content has risen 75%, to a rate of nearly seven incidences per hour of programming.”

The report found that Fox was the smuttiest network, with seven out of seven shows examined by researchers including some “sexual material.” Fox refused to comment on the study.

PTC researchers lamented that in the end of the century, television’s “early promise has been erased by the rapid degeneration of televised programming content.”

The report released this week is the fourth issued since 1996 by the PTC. The group, which was established in 1995, studies what it says is the impact of popular culture — including television, movies and music — on the nation’s morals. Among its board members are Motion Picture Assn. of America CEO Jack Valenti, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.).

Family time

The report is part of the group’s effort to get broadcasters to reserve the 8-9 p.m. timeslot for family-friendly programming. The major broadcast networks have not observed the Family Hour for almost 25 years.

The PTC council found a lot of examples of questionable talk and action during its review of programming airing last May on the four major broadcast networks. Among its findings:

  • References to sex acts have increased 77% since the PTC’s last report, which came out a year and a half ago;

  • 68% of all shows in the family hour contain sexual material;

  • and fictional characters use foul language an average of 1.44 times per hour between 8-9 p.m.

Eye accused

The report also found that CBS was the most violent network during the May ’99 period covered by the study.

A CBS spokesman called the finding “ludicrous and completely misguided.” He pointed out that during the time covered by the report, CBS aired shows such as “Promised Land,” “Touched by an Angel” and “Kids Say the Darndest Things.”