Family hour on prime time television is no longer the family hour parents can enjoy with their children without concerns over objectionable content, a new study found.
Once every 3.5 minutes of non-commercial airtime, the first hour of prime time is "assaulted" by violence, profanity and sexual content, said the Parents Television Council (PTC) in their study. During the 2006-2007 study period, almost 90 percent of the 208 television shows reviewed contained objectionable content.
FOX, the most watched network among young adult viewers, was listed as the worst among broadcast networks overall with 20.78 instances of violent, profane and sexual content each hour, which is nearly double the amount of similar content shown on the five other major broadcast networks in the study.
"Our study clearly demonstrates that corporate interests have hijacked the Family Hour from families," said PTC president Tim Winter. "This early prime time block was once reserved for programs the whole family could enjoy but it is now flooded with shows that contain adult programming.
"The Family Hour was once lauded by the entertainment industry and members of Congress as a solution for parents who do not want their children to be exposed to graphic content for at least one hour each night. Shockingly, this data shows that parents cannot trust what is on during the so-called Family Hour for even a minute."
Foul language was found on almost every series airing during the Family Viewing Hour. Incidences of sexual content increased by 22.1 percent while violent content increased by 52.4 percent since the 2001-2002 television season.
Some of the worst shows based on frequency of inappropriate content include FOX's "American Dad" and "24" and NBC's "My Name is Earl."
"Also troubling is the adult themed programming that the networks chose to re-air during the Family Hour, for it contained 58 percent more objectionable content per hour than original programming," Winter pointed out. "These scheduling choices exposed young viewers to content originally intended for mature audiences, an issue that could be avoided if networks would keep their most objectionable programming in later timeslots where it belongs."
Youth-oriented The CW proved to be the "cleanest" broadcast network. And overall shows with little or the least inappropriate content were "Deal or No Deal" (NBC), "Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?" (FOX), "Identity" (NBC) and "Grease: You're the One That I Want" (ABC).
"The Family Hour needs to be restored," Winter stated. "We are 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. And we are calling on parents across the country – and their public servants – to speak out in defense of the Family Hour."
The PTC study examined original entertainment programs that aired on ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CW, and MyNetworkTV throughout the 2006-2007 television season. The Family Hour time slot includes programs between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Sundays, in the Eastern Time zone.