Sexy TV gets safer

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TV is getting "safe" sexier, according to a new study released by the Kaiser
Family Foundation.

"Sex on TV 3: Content and Context," a study of 1,100 shows across a range of
broadcast and cable networks, found that two-thirds of all TV shows (64 percent,
actually) have "some sexual content."

That is down slightly from the last study two years ago, when 68 percent of
shows surveyed contained some sexual behaviors.

The number jumps for shows targeted at teens, however.

Among the top-20 teen shows, eight out of 10 included sexual content.

Discussions of safe sex occurred in 15 percent of shows with sexual content,
up from 10 percent two years ago.

Serious sex is on the rise.

The study found that 14 percent of shows include sexual intercourse, depicted
or implied, up from 10 percent two years ago.

Among the shows that dealt with intercourse, safe sex was discussed in 26
percent, up significantly from 14 percent two years ago.

The shows sampled (which excluded sports, news and kids' shows) aired between
7 a.m. and 11 p.m. in 2001-2002 on the "Big Four" broadcast networks, PBS, KTLA
(The WB Television Network affiliate), Lifetime Television, Turner Network Television, USA Network and Home Box Office.

Notable for its absence from the study was UPN, particularly since one of the
participants in the foundation's press conference announcing the results was
Yvette Bowser, executive producer of UPN show Half & Half, whose show
Feb. 3, the day before the study was released, featured a safe-sex message.

According to survey director and Kaiser vice president Vicky Rideout, the
survey had room for only one netlet, and The WB (KTLA) was chosen because it was
higher-rated.

The same ratings standard holds for the choice of cable networks, which was
made for the first study four years ago.

Kaiser plans to use the same networks in future studies for purpose of
comparison.

Rideout said the absence of MTV: Music Television in a survey about TV sex might seem an even
greater anomaly than the absence of UPN, but she added that this was not an
exercise in "if we go looking for sex, can we find it," but an attempt at
surveying one week of programming on the top-rated TV outlets.

New to the study this year was a breakout on the top-20 shows among teens,
regardless of which network they were on.

UPN did show up in that list in the form of Smackdown!.

Fox had 11 of the top 20 shows among teens.

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