Tuesday, February 1, 2005

A conservative media watchdog yesterday issued a report accusing MTV of blatantly selling sex to children, coinciding with the anniversary of singer Janet Jackson’s breast exposure during the MTV-produced 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.

In a report titled “MTV Smut Peddlers: Targeting Kids With Sex, Drugs and Alcohol,” the Parents Television Council (PTC) said the Viacom-owned cable channel contains staggering levels of sex, violence and foul language.

Pointing out that people are still talking about the Jackson incident, which was “three-quarters of a second on broadcast television,” L. Brent Bozell, president of the PTC, said: “One possible explanation is that in that moment, millions of parents finally saw, and understood what their children are seeing every afternoon on MTV.”

The report is based on an analysis of 171 hours of MTV’s “Spring Break” programming during the week of March 20-27, 2004.

PTC analysts concluded children watching MTV are viewing an average of nine sexual scenes per hour and subjected to roughly nine unbleeped profanities, in addition to 18 bleeped profanities per hour.

They also said music video programming contained nine violence instances and 32 foul language instances per hour. And reality shows reportedly had more sexual content than the music videos, with 13 sexual scenes per hour.

According to the Parents Television Council, MTV contains far higher levels of sex and foul language compared with prime-time broadcast television, and almost three times the adult content that adults get late at night — yet MTV’s shows are aimed at children as young as 12.

An MTV spokeswoman said the report “underestimates young people’s level of sophistication and intellect.”

“It is ridiculous,” she added, referring to an experiment cited by the report according to which “seventh- and ninth-graders [are] more likely to approve premarital sex after watching MTV for just one hour.”

She also called the report “very dated and taken out of context,” because it bases some of its conclusions on studies conducted in 1986 and 1993.

Still, Mr. Bozell said “parents need to be worried about MTV not only because of its popularity, but also because of its tremendous influence in the lives of America’s teens and preteens.”

According to the report, MTV is watched by 73 percent of boys and 78 percent of girls between the ages of 12 and 19.

“This reports ignores a lot of what MTV truly stands for,” said the MTV spokeswoman, citing the Peabody and Emmy Award-winning “Choose or Lose” political awareness and voter registration campaign.

However, according to the report, “the incessant sleaze on MTV presents the most compelling case yet for consumer cable choice.” MTV is generally part of any basic cable package.

“It is unconscionable for the cable industry to force families to subsidize this kind of filth for the privilege of being able to watch TV Land, or the Food Network, or Disney Channel,” Mr. Bozell said.

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