U.S. watchdog group calls for new TV, movie rating system

Wed Jan 8, 2014 7:31pm EST
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By Patrica Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Parents Television Council called for an overhaul of the U.S. ratings system used in television and films on Wednesday, saying it does not accurately and consistently reflect violence in the media.

The watchdog group said a year after Vice President Joe Biden led a task force and met with entertainment industry executives about gun violence following the killing of 20 children and six adults in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, nothing has been done to reduce media violence.

"We want a wholesale reform of the content ratings systems. Right now you have a system in which the industry rates its own content for age," said Tim Winter, the president of the Los Angeles-based council.

"There is an inherent financial conflict of interest in that they are motivated to rate material that is inappropriate for children as appropriate because advertisers are more likely to sponsor it," he added in an interview.

The situation in film is not much better, Winter added, because people go to more PG-13 movies than to R-rated movies, so a PG-13 rating is more financially profitable.

He cited research that showed PG-13 rated films - movies that suggest parental guidance because some material may be inappropriate for viewing by children under 13 - contain as much violence as more adult R-rated films.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) established the Classification and Rating Administration that provides information to parents about the suitability of films for their children.

The G rating is for general audience. PG suggests parental guidance and a PG-13 is a sterner warning. An R rating is restricted and anyone under 17 years old must be accompanied by a parent or an adult guardian. No one under 17 is admitted in a NC-17 film.   Continued...