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Study Finds TV Content Grew Dramatically More Coarse in Last 10 Years

Aired March 30, 2000 - 2:48 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: A group concerned with what folks are watching on television issued a report today that reveals a dramatic change in television content over the last 10 years.

As Jonathan Aiken reports, it appears television programs now are more coarse than ever.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN AIKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Parent's Television Council, a group concerned about television content, called TV today unsuitable for consumption.

BRENT BOZELL, PARENTS TELEVISION COUNCIL: What parents will find on broadcast television today is literally crap, a word that was used 44 -- 41 times during a four-week period last fall, as compared to only five times in 1989.

AIKEN: The group's study found sexual content, coarse language and violence combined nearly tripled. On a per-hour basis, sexual material was nearly three times as frequent. The level of violence on television has remained about the same.

While network television ratings are down, overall TV viewership, including candle and satellite programming, remains high, on average more than seven hours a day. And despite occasional viewer protests over content, advertisers still spend nearly $50 billion a year for commercial time.

The FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, used to control the content of TV programming far more than it does now. On Thursday, there were hints from Capitol Hill the FCC may be asked to once again exert stronger influence on broadcasters.

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (D), CONNECTICUT: This particular genie, when you're talking about broadcasters using the public airwaves, could always be put back in the bottle. And that's why maybe it is time to for the FCC to go back and look at where its current policies have taken us.

AIKEN (on camera): So far, none of the networks -- and that includes CNN's corporate parent, Time Warner -- has commented on the report. The National Association of Broadcasters, which represents the industry on Capitol Hill, says it's reviewing the study and may comment later.

Jonathan Aiken for CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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