- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Game shows and reality television rank among the most suitable broadcast programs for children ages 2 to 18, according to an annual list released this week by the Parents Television Council.

The PTC, which lobbies against violence and sexual content in media, looked at the top 20 shows watched by children, as measured by Nielsen Media Research, and ranked them from best to worst for family viewing.

ABC’s reality show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” was named the most family-friendly show for the second year in a row. At the bottom of the list, Fox’s animated “Family Guy” was given the title of worst program for youngsters.

“The fact that children are drawn to programs like ABC’s ‘Extreme Makeover’ and game shows like ‘Deal or No Deal’ and ‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?’ proves that there is market demand for family-friendly television programming,” Tim Winter, president of the PTC, said this week. “Sadly, that demand is still underserved.”

Although the group found more family-friendly programs this year, it said, most of them are reality series and game shows as opposed to scripted series.

NBC Sunday Night Football was ranked as the second most suitable program for children, followed by “Deal or No Deal,” “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” “The Singing Bee,” “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” “American Idol” and “Supernanny.”

The PTC cited six programs that are “questionably suitable” — containing adult themes and dialogue — for children: “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” “Dancing With the Stars,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Amazing Race,” “Survivor” and “The Simpsons.”

Six of the broadcast shows most watched by young viewers are not suitable for children because they include “gratuitous sex, explicit dialogue, violent content or obscene language,” in the PTC’s judgment. These are: “House,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Heroes,” “CSI,” “American Dad” and “Family Guy.”

Mr. Winter said these shows “continually reach new lows when it comes to harsh language, excessive violence and explicit sex.” “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” in particular, “put irreverence on parade on a weekly basis while relentlessly breaking taboos with sexual content and cartoon violence.”

In its analysis, the PTC said it considered the “frequency and explicitness” of bad language, sexual content and violence throughout the programs, along with the show’s time slot, target audience and theme.

In other news

c Comcast this week debuted its Digital Voice service in Frederick County, Md., making the cable provider’s “triple play” — cable, Internet and phone services — available to subscribers there.

c The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who today appears before the Federal Communications Commission to testify on media ownership limits, yesterday cited “an ‘anti-diversity’ agenda” emanating from the media-regulating commission.

Mr. Jackson sent the commission a letter objecting to proposed “multicast must-carry” rules that would force cable operators to carry all digital channels owned by broadcasters, who can compress their spectrum digitally to create new channels and lease them to third parties.

c Channel Surfing runs Wednesdays. E-mail krowland@washingtontimes.com.

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