US TV Exposing Young
Children 5-11 To
Increasing Violence
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - U.S. television is putting a premium on attracting children aged 5 to 11, but many of the programs aimed at them contain violence and harsh language, researchers said on Monday.
A study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania found that broadcasters this year were tailoring nearly two-thirds of children's programming for elementary school audiences.
``However, almost half of these programs fall into our low quality category,'' said Amy Jordan, an Annenberg researcher who headed the study, titled ``The 1998 State of Children's Television Report''. Elementary school children were not only more likely than teen-agers or preschoolers to see violent acts and hear harsh language on programs designed for their tastes. The study also found that the programming was less likely to contain any enriching content.
Programming for older children did not fare much better in the report. ``While it's nice to see programmers addressing the long-ignored teen audience, almost two in five of those shows ranked as low quality in our study,'' Jordan said. The study was based on a week-long survey of 1,190 programs targeted at children aged 2-16 by broadcast and cable-TV channels, including the big-four networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox. Almost all children's programs on PBS -- 99.1 percent -- were rated high quality by researchers. Few PBS children's programs contained violence, harsh language or sexual innuendo.
The study's overall results showed that only 25 percent of children's shows featuring three or more violent scenes carried the FV rating meant to warn parents of ``fantasy violence''. Also, one-quarter of shows earmarked ``E/I'' for educational and informational content were found to be of minimal educational value.
Overall, the study rated more than one-third of children's programming -- 36.3 percent -- as ``low quality''. A nearly equal portion of 36.4 percent was judged ``high quality,'' but that was down 3 percent from a similar study in 1997. The ''moderate quality'' category was up 4 percent to 27.3 percent. A separate Annenberg study found that 16.5 percent of parents with children aged 2 to 17 said they had ``mainly'' or ''very'' positive opinions about the quality of U.S. programming for children. Only one in 10 said there were ``a lot'' of good programs for young people.

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