Media Critics Lambaste Ratings

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Uncle Sam should pressure media industries to ditch their various self-rating systems and place TV, movies and other electronic media under a uniform system, a watchdog group said.

Common Sense Media Wednesday called for a single rating system consistent across all media products. Common Sense found 83% of parents are unhappy with today’s "hodgepodge" of self-monitoring regimes and 65% want an independent group to develop and oversee ratings.

"Parents desperately need trustworthy information about what’s in kids’ media," Jim Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, said during a Federal Trade Commission workshop on media violence.

"The best solution would give parents easy-to-use information that is unbiased and compatible across all media platforms."

Among those surveyed, 78% believe that a cross-media system would be better than today’s variety of ratings systems, while only 11% think it would be worse and 11% didn’t know. Fewer than half of parents reported ever using any system besides movie ratings.

A Parents Television Council study presented at the FTC fete criticized the six broadcast networks for carrying ads for R-rated films and M-rated video games during shows children are likely to see.

PTC said 27% of movie ads during family viewing hours were for R-rated films and 28% of gamed ads were for M-rated software. "Broadcasters must take a more active role in directing how their advertising inventory is used," said PTC President Brent Bozell.

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