Parents' Watchdog Group: Virtually No Family-Friendly Shows Left on TV

By Barbara Hollingsworth | November 26, 2014 | 12:46pm EST


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( – “There’s very little family programming left” on television, lamented Melissa Henson, director of grassroots and public education at the Parents Television Council (PTC).

The non-partisan group, whose mission is to protect children from graphic sex, violence and profanity on TV, is urging consumers to “let your values be your guide” while shopping for the holidays.

To help them, Henson recently compiled PTC’s annual list of “2014 Best and Worst Advertisers” in eight categories: fast food, beverages, clothing, general retail, personal items, groceries, computers and financial services.

“In years past, we did the list based on how many green- or red-lighted shows a company advertised on,” she told “We can’t do that anymore because there’s virtually no green-lighted shows left on TV. There’s very little family programming left.”

That’s why PTC’s 2014 list of “Best Advertisers” includes companies that may have advertised on shows that routinely feature graphic sex, violence, and profanity, but agreed to pull their ads when PTC called them out on it.

Companies tend to fall into three categories, she explained. “Some of them, like Wal-Mart and Proctor & Gamble, are proactively working to create a family-friendly environment.

“A few companies looked at the program content and decided it was not the right place for them to advertise, so they pulled their ads from those programs,” she said. “They made the responsible choice, and we agreed not to disclose their names.

"But the companies on the 'Worst Advertisers' list refused to reexamine their advertising decisions even after PTC repeatedly pointed out the graphic content on shows they were supporting with their ad dollars.

“They knew they were supporting trash,” Henson told, “but they were not even willing to engage in the conversation.”

“This isn’t a blacklist,” she added, but a way for families to support companies that support their values. “And research shows that advertisers do better when they support family programming,” she pointed out.

“Wal-Mart did a market study and found that their ads performed better, and consumers trusted their brand more, in the context of a family-friendly show. People tend to forget advertising on shows with a high level of sex and violence.

“So it’s not just about what’s best for consumers, but what’s best for you as an advertiser,” she said.

“What people see on TV is influential. TV advertisers certainly know it to be true, otherwise they would not have spent $86 billion last year just on U.S. television,” PTC president Tim Winter said in a statement.

“The sole purchase of spending each dollar was to convince Americans to buy their goods and services. The ability to influence children does not stop once the commercial break is over and the program begins.

“We applaud those companies that are on our ‘best’ list, as they have shown a willingness to evaluate and adjust their ad buys in order to take into consideration the concerns of parents about the quality and content of programming that’s accessible to children.

“At the same time, we urge those companies on our ‘worst’ list to re-evaluate their ad buys on TV shows that routinely feature graphic sex, violence, and profanity, and that have the potential to permanently lower standards for TV content across the board.”

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