(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – MTV aims sexually charged content at young viewers and the cable industry forces objecting parents to foot the bill, according to the watchdog Parents Television Council.
In a study released last week, the organization said it counted 3,056 flashes of nudity or sexual situations and 2,881 verbal references to sex during MTV’s “Spring Break” week last March.
“MTV is blatantly selling raunchy sex to kids,” PTC president and conservative activist Brent Bozell said in a press release.
MTV called the report unfair and said the group ignored the channel’s Emmy-winning “Choose or Lose” campaign on the presidential election and other public service efforts.
“It’s unfair and inaccurate to paint MTV with that brush of irresponsibility,” MTV spokeswoman Jeannie Kedas told the Associated Press. “We think it’s underestimating young people’s intellect and level of sophistication.”
The report reveals nothing new about MTV’s content to those familiar with its content, according to an independent analyst, but it should raise red flags to parents less familiar with the channel’s programming.
“There are a lot of things that most rational parents of 12-year-olds would be uncomfortable with their children consuming,” Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, told the Associated Press. But he said it is dangerous to leap to a conclusion that MTV’s programs influence young people’s behavior.
Kedas said the network follows the same standards the Federal Communications Commission requires of broadcasters. She said MTV offers content its viewers are interested in.
Melissa Caldwell, Director of Research and Publications for the PTC, said explicit sexual content spiked in recent years during a boom in “reality” programming across television channels.
But according to Caldwell, cable companies force MTV content on viewers by including the channel in most basic cable packages.
“If you have a basic cable subscription, chances are you have MTV coming into your home whether you want it to or not,” she said.
Caldwell said while cable providers offer viewers the option to block unwanted channels, they still must pay for all channels that are part of their subscription package.
“You’re still helping to underwrite the content of programming you find so objectionable that you don’t want it coming into your home,” she said. Her group favors “a la carte” programming, a system that would allow customers to pick and choose which cable channels to buy individually.
MTV is owned by Viacom, which also owns children’s channel Nickelodeon and 13 other cable channels.
Caldwell said Viacom’s control of the channels allows the company to introduce MTV content to Nickelodeon’s younger viewers.
“Viacom uses the fact that you are forced to get both channels as part of a basic cable package to acclimate very young children to the MTV brand,” she said. During the week, the PTC said it recorded 3,127 instances of profane dialogue “bleeped” out and another 1,518 other instances of unedited rough language. Music videos contained more foul language and violence than MTV’s series or specials, the group said in its study.