By Fr. George Welzbacher
October 7, 2007
At a time when almost everyone is expressing concern or even alarm about the damage we are causing or seem to be causing to the environment, with its related impact on human health, very few are voicing anxiety about the damage being done to the virtues on which a nation's vigor, not to mention the salvation of souls, depends. In this department one of the chief culprits is the "toxic dump" known as TV Entertainment, supplemented, of course, by the film at the Mall, the gangsta rap searing your ears from somebody's boom box, and the aggressive incursions of pornography via the intemet into your home. To borrow a phrase from the Watergate era, "Tbere's a cancer eating at the very heart" of America's national character.
So as the new television season gets underway may I share with you a statistical analysis of just how rotten what once was called "family hour television" has become. I reprint here an article from the September 10, 2007, issue of the weekly national edition of The Washington Times.
* * * * *Family Hour for Watching Television Goes Down the Tubes.
By Jennifer Harper
The old-fashioned family hour is all but dead - overrun by foul language, sexual content and violence. On average, objectionable material is broadcast every three minutes from 8 to 9 p.m.., according to an analysis of 208 prime-time shows released Sept. 5 by the Parents Television Council.
Only 11 percent of the programs were free of offensive fare, the study found. Three-quarters featured profanity, more than half contained sexual references, and almost half show-cased violent acts and images, including "medical violence."
"These findings even surprised us. We knew it was had, but not this bad," said Tim Winter, president of the Los Angeles-based watchdog group.
"The family hour was once a time to watch things like 'Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom- or ' Leave it to Beaver.' Now it's been turned into a toxic dump by an industry which does not serve the interests of the American public. The people are supposed to own these airways, not the industry," Mr. Winter said.
"Our message to parents is twofold. They must become aware of what's happened. This is not the family hour we knew as kids. Secondly, parents are not helpless. They don't need to stand for this, and should speak up to networks, advertisers and Congress. Do it now. A sense of urgency is very important," Mr. Winter added.
The Parents Television Council conducted similar research in 2001. After comparing respective results, the researchers concluded that family hour is "unsafe" and "even more hostile to children and families" by virtue of increased nudity, alarming autopsies, supernatural oddities and coarse behavior, among other factors.
The study examined 180 hours of original programming from 54 series and four specials.
Of the six networks analyzed, Fox was the worst offender for language, sexuality, and violence, with an average of 21 instances of objectionable content per hour. The frequency of violence, in fact, has increased by 426 percent on the network
The worst show was Fox's "American Dad," with 52 instances of totally inappropriate content. The network's "The War at Home" and "24" also were cited for sexual content and violence.
In comparison, CNN was "the cleanest network overall with nine instances of offensive content per hour.
The analysis could find only four shows during the family hour that appeared untainted. "Deal or No Deal," "Identity" and "Grease: You're the One That I Want" on NBC and "Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?" on Fox.
CBS, meanwhile has upped its prurient factor, apparently. Sexual content on the network has increased by 579 percent, the study found.
"The Family hour needs to be restored," Mr. Winter said. "We're calling on the broadcast industry to return to the time-honored principle of airing mature-themed content only at later times of the evening; and to provide parents with a consistent, objective and meaningful content ratings system. We are calling on the advertising industry to underwrite only time-appropriate content with their media dollars."
* * * * *What can an individual do? Well for starters, one can always click the "off" button. Forsake TV and use the time you'll save to read a good book.