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Is there too much violence on television?

By Carole Mikita | Posted - Mar 26th, 2013 @ 8:52am

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SALT LAKE CITY — Whether it's CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX or the CW, members of the Parents Television Council says violence and gun-related violence is prevalent on prime-time network television.

From January 11 through February 11, the PTC examined 392 programs aired on the five networks and found that nearly half — 193 — contained violence. Nearly a third — 121 — contained gun violence.

"You can tell when my boys have been watching something violent because they will act out more, they will want to hit more, they'll want to box more and they'll want to play more violently," said Stephanie Jacobsen, a mother of five boys. "So, it makes an impact on their lives."

Jacobsen said she is constantly monitoring what is on the screen because of the content shown on network channels. As an effort to screen the content, Jacobsen and her husband have set parental locks on cable and enabled parental guidance on YouTube to limit access to violent material.

"Hollywood continues to be deaf to the cries for ending a media culture awash in blood," said Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council.

That deafness is not surprising, according to Westminster College professor Kimberly Zarkin. She said that the amount of money that flows through Hollywood is enough to keep things pretty much as they are.

"The cop shows are very popular and nothing's going to change as long as money's coming in," she said.

Just the stats
392 programs from Jan. 11 to Feb. 11
193 contained violence
121 contained gun violence

CBS was at the head, with 92 shows and 322 violent scenes, 131 with guns.
ABC came in last with 91 shows and 98 violent scenes, 37 with guns.

It works for CBS, the number one network, which has 92 shows with 322 violent scenes and 131 featuring guns. At the bottom of PTC's survey was ABC, which has 91 shows with 98 violent scenes and 37 featuring guns.

Zarkin said even the most popular police dramas can provide teaching moments, showing that crime doesn't pay when criminals go to jail or are caught.

At the end of the day, however, it's not a one-to-one correspondence between enacting violence and watching violence. Zarkin said scholars of the media will tell you the only conclusion they have is that some media violence affects some people, some of the time.


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