Watchdog Says TV Immorality Is Only Getting Worse – TV immorality is pervasive in our society, and damaging the hearts and minds of our children. Join us with Melissa Henson from Parents Television Council to discuss this very important topic!

Air Date: 05/11/2020

Guest: Melissa Henson

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton

Today’s Links: https://www.parentstv.org/


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

 

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture is WallBuilders Live. Be sure to check out our websites today at wallbuilderslive.com and wallbuilders.com. At WallBuilders Live, a lot of great information there and recent programs that you can get, you can also make a contribution there and you can learn more about us.

My name is Rick Green, I’m America’s Constitution coach and a former Texas legislator. David Barton is America’s premier historian and our founder at WallBuilders. Tim Barton is national speaker and pastor and president of WallBuilders. And we’re not going to say much more during this segment because we got to take a quick break because we got a long segment coming up with a great interview with Melissa Henson. And then we’ll be commenting on that and David and Tim will be with us a little later in the program. So, we’re headed to break early in the program today.

As we do that, again, be sure to visit wallbuilderslive.com to learn more about what you can be doing to make a difference in your community. You can be the catalyst for a restoration of biblical and historical and constitutional values right there in your community. Stay with us, we’ll be right back on WallBuilders Live.

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Hey, friends, it is not too late to join us for the crash course in history and government for all those folks that are schooling from home. Now, that could mean a lot of things. Schooling from home could mean that you’ve been homeschooling your kids from the beginning or it could mean you’ve been thrust into homeschooling as a result of the COVID crackdowns or it could mean you don’t even have kids at home, but you’re still schooling because we all are still learning every day, right? So really, this program is available for anyone and it’s not too late to join us. Even though we started on May 4, we’re doing every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon throughout May and you can join at any time and when you join, you will be able to get the recordings of any of the afternoons that you missed.

Remember, this is a live opportunity to learn about history and government to bring those things to life. And we’re going to have special guests every afternoon, people that have been in our “Chasing American Legends” program, people from, I mean, Dr. Alveda King, David Barton, Tim Barton, Brad Stein, all kinds of great folks are going to be joining us, you need to be there as well. Go to patriotacademy.com to sign up today. Patriotacademy.com, it’s not too late and you’ll get recordings of any live afternoons that you missed. Get the crash course in history and government at patriotacademy.com.

Rick:

Welcome back to the intersection of faith in the culture WallBuilders Live. Thanks for staying with us today. Melissa Henson is with us today from Parents Television Council. Melissa, thanks for coming on today.

Melissa:

Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Rick:

Hey, you guys put out another study this time showing the increase just last year, I guess over the last decade of regular PG programming, the increase of violence and language and all the things we don’t want our young children to hear or see and apparently, it’s just becoming more prevalent in basic programming on television. Catch us up a little bit on what you guys do and why you’re out there helping to make sure that children are protected.

Melissa:

Sure. Well, the Parents Television Council is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media watchdog organization. We were founded more than 20 years ago now, in response to growing recognition that, you know, what used to be considered a safe harbor for families that is primetime broadcast television was becoming increasingly coarse. But now, of course, in the last 20 years, we’ve also seen the boom in original cable programming and more recently streaming video.

So, the challenges that families face are only, they’re growing exponentially. You know, kids have so many more ways to access content and it’s so much more challenging for parents to monitor what their kids are viewing. And so, we try to be a resource for parents to help them to make educated media decision for their families and to warn parents about content that they should be on the lookout for.

Rick:

One of the major points, if I’m reading your information correctly that you guys try to make is that the ratings should mean something. It should mean something that parents know that this fits for a certain age group and when you have this, what you all call content creep, those ratings no longer can be trusted.

Melissa:

Yeah, that’s absolutely right. You know, when the rating system was first introduced as a solution, many people in the PTC were among those sounding the alarm that there was a potential for unintended consequences. And one of those unintended consequences is that prior to the implementation, the TV rating system, there was sort of this accepted standard that pretty much everything that you put on broadcast television should be suitable for a general audience. And of course, there was always content that was a little edgy, but for the most part, this was a standard that the networks recognized and try to abide by.

But after the rating system was introduced, the networks now acted as though they had covered. They could put whatever content they wanted out there and as long as they put a label on it, they could say, oh, well, if your kid saw something bad, that’s not our fault. We said it was for kids 14 and older, we put that L descriptor on there, so it’s not our fault. So, what we saw almost as soon as we got the rating system is that content got much worse, much faster.

But in addition to that, what we often see is the ratings are all over the place. There’s no consistency in how these ratings are being applied. And so, parent is really left scrambling because they’re not getting adequate information. Content that might get a TV-14 on one network, on another network might be PG. Content that on one network might be TV-14, in reality should probably be TV-MA and so it’s just a jumbled mess and there’s no accountability.

Rick:

I was thinking as I was reading through this, that, you know, okay, so now with things changing so much, because I was thinking like you said, I mean, it used to be that on broadcast when you actually got that signal from the antenna and you put that on your television in your living room, that that was always going to safe content; that that was, you know, not going to be something you’d see in a movie theater or any of those other areas and that has drastically changed, of course. But how much, I mean, guess answer it this way, or let me ask it this way is, I mean, with the streaming and the digital access and those things that, you know, we don’t really monitor I mean, does this even matter anymore? Let me ask it that way. I mean, does it matter that we have all these ratings now that it’s no longer the big three networks just coming in on the antenna?

Melissa:

Well, I would argue that it matters more than ever that you have accurate rating information, because it is impossible for any one person or any parents to stay on top of all the content. It was hard enough when you had, you know, the big three networks, ABC, NBC, CBS, each with three hours of programming a night, even if that was all you had to worry about, you know that so…

Rick:

Because you can actually go up and turn the TV off and not even have that outlet in the house at all if you want it and you can’t do that anymore, because it’s on everything?

Melissa:

Right. Right. But at least, you know, even then, you had what, 9 hours of programming at night to stay on top, sometime 7, you know, so we still had 60 some hours of programming, you had to try to filter through all that and figure out what was okay for your family to watch and what was not. But now, with original cable programming, with the streaming universe, I mean, Netflix and AmazonPrime and Hulu, they’re adding hundreds of hours of original programming and nobody can stay on top of that even the professional TV reviewers cannot keep up with the rate of output.

And so, it’s all more important now that we have accurate reliable information so that if your child ask, can I watch this movie or can I watch this TV show? You can flip it on and see, oh, no sorry, son that says TV 14, that’s not going to be okay for you to watch. Or yeah, that’s a TVG, I can trust that’s accurate rating and that’s going to be okay for you to watch them.

Rick:

That makes perfect sense. And then the other thing I was thinking about, is just the digital monitoring. So, if I’m using a setting on either our TV or on the iPads or whatever to say that nothing that’s, you know, TV-14 or above that can come through this device, I’m putting some faith in that rating, and in the technology to be able to block that for, you know, access to the kids. So, it actually is, like you said, even more important that rating actually means something especially if we’re going to program our devices for protection based on that rating? Yeah.

Melissa:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

Rick:

And so, if I understand you, right, so now the ratings are governed by who? I mean who makes that decision at this point on what a radio actually means?

Melissa:

Right? This is where it gets really complicated. Because I think many families, you know, to the extent they think about it at all, they probably assume that there’s some independent body out there, like the TV industry equivalent of the MPAA. That’s reviewing all this content, rating the shows, using some standard set of objective criteria, but that’s not what happens at all. It’s basically, each network or each producer deciding for themselves what the rating should be. And there’s no independent body that’s overseeing all this making sure that it’s accurate.

There is however, a group called the TV Oversight Monitoring Board. It’s people that sit on this TV Oversight Monitoring Board are the same folks that are rating the shows in the first place. So, you have the head of network standards and practices for Viacom, you have the head of network standards and practices for NBC Universal, you know, so it’s the same people that are applying the ratings in the first place that are overseeing the implementation of the ratings. And it’s very unlikely that they’re going to say, you know what, I was really wrong when I said that was TV-14, it should have been TV-MA. Nobody is going to do that, it’s unrealistic. So, practically speaking, there is no oversight, there is nobody ensuring the accuracy of these ratings.

Rick:

Who does it for the movies?

Melissa:

Well, there’s the Motion Picture Association of America, the MPAA, which is an independent body, it’s supposed to be an independent body. Nobody really even knows who sits on the MPAA. They’re supposed to be an [inaudible 10:31] there. But it’s supposed to be, you know, mothers and, you know, maybe educators and you know, it’s supposed to be a broad cross section of America. The TV-OMB, by contrast has, I think, 20 some seats, 27 seats or something like that, 23 or 24 of which are filled by people that work in the entertainment industry. So, there’s a high degree of self interest in the government of this TV Oversight Monitoring Board.

Rick:

What do you propose as the solution?

Melissa:

Well, I think there are a couple things that need to be done. One is that they, TV-OMB as it currently stands needs to be disbanded and it needs to be reconstructed. And the newly constructed TV-OMB needs to be more representative. It needs to be reflective of the people that have a vested interest in having accurate rating that is not the entertainment industry. So, they need to have input from psychologists, from educators, from children’s advocacy groups, you know, the PTA s and the American Medical Association, groups like that, folks that know how media affects kids that are concerned about the effect that media has on kids and that have an interest in making sure that kids are not being exposed to harmful content.

Rick:

Would that be something that the industry comes together and does is that something that you’re asking Congress to do? How does that type of an organization get formed?

Melissa:

Well, right now, the TV-OMB exists as part of a certain agreement So when the TV rating system was implemented, Congress was under a lot of pressure to look at media violence and they basically went to the entertainment industry. And they said, you can either come up with your own solution or we will come up with a solution and impose it on you. And given that option, the industry said, we’ll come up with our own solution.

And the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission could either accept the industry solution entirely or they could reject the industry solution entirely. They couldn’t really tinker with it. You know, they couldn’t make marginal adjustments to it. They had to either accept or reject. So, the FCC accepted the entire system as the entertainment industry proposed it. So, the only way we’re going to get changed at this point is for the FCC to go back and say, we’re rejecting the system and it’s entirely we’re going to start from scratch. We want to have a thorough review the TV ratings. We want to have an objective standard for how the ratings are applied. And we want to rebuild the TV Oversight Monitoring Board with better representation from the people that really care about kids, what’s best for kids.

Rick:

And you guys are in communication with them about this or pushing for that, you know, how receptive are they to that idea?

Melissa:

Well, so the first step in this process last year, last spring, as part of the federal budget reconciliation process, there was language inserted in the federal budget requiring the FCC to report on the accuracy of the TV ratings and the effect of this of the oversight. So last spring, the FCC produced a report based on public comments that they received and they received something like 1,800 and 1,900 public comments on TV ratings. Of those public comments that were filed, 99% said there is a problem here, the ratings are not doing their job. They’re not protecting kids, they’re not serving families.

Rick:

99%

Melissa:

The only comments that said everything is fine were the comments that were filed by lobbyists for the entertainment industry.

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

Melissa:

They were the only ones who said that the ratings were doing their job. So, we have now this report from the FCC acknowledging that for the vast majority of Americans that rated on this issue, the ratings are failing families. So, I think the next step is now to push Congress to take next step and ask for hearings or ask for some sort of symposium where we can talk about how we’re going to fix this broken rating system.

Rick:

What is the best way to follow the studies you guys put out and your information, best website to send people to?

Melissa:

Yeah, you can visit us online at parentstv.org

Parents tv.org. We’ll have a link today at wallbuilderslive.com to make it easy to get there. Melissa, thanks for coming on today. Appreciate your time, appreciate the work you guys are doing and look forward to getting a report from you later in the year on how this is going.

Melissa:

Yep. Thank you so much.

Rick:

That’s Melissa Henson. Stay with us, folks. We’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.

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Hey friends, this Rick Green from WallBuilders Live and I have had so many requests about, what in the world could we be studying at home right now you know I got the kids at home, they’re normally in school? Or if you homeschool, you’re looking for additional material. One-Room Schoolhouse. It is a great new series WallBuilders is putting out where you literally get a tour of the WallBuilders library as Tim Barton and Jonathan Ritchie bring history to life. There’s a couple of resources on this.

You go to YouTube and search for WallBuilders and look for a One-Room Schoolhouse. You can go to our Facebook page and get it right there on Facebook as we do it live each Monday and sometimes additional days from there. And then you can also just go to wallbuilders.com, scroll down to the bottom and we’ll be posting the videos as they come out. This is such a great way to learn and a great way for you to share with others. Gather the family around, watch the One-Room Schoolhouse and learn some great history. It’ll be vitally important to restoring our nation and bringing back these principles that made America great in the first place. Check it out oneroomschoolhouse@wallbuilders.com.

Rick:

We’re back here on WallBuilders live. Thanks for staying with us. And thanks to Melissa Henson for joining us on the program today. Back with David and Tim Barton now. And so much of these, you know, stats, I think it’s so easy to get complacent. We’ve seen this thing get worse and worse over the years and man, it’s good just take a step back and see how far we’ve gone in just a few years.

David:

So, Rick and listen to Melissa and talk about how that the standards really mean nothing. I didn’t know that was the case, but I believe that for a while. I didn’t know there was a standard board for TV that was different from movies. And I recognized movie standards and I recognized…

Tim:

And by standards, you mean ratings?

David:

Ratings. That’s right,ratings. But when I see ratings on TV, I watch programs I go, I don’t think that’s what that’s supposed to be. And so, I just dismiss TV ratings because they don’t mean anything to me. And I will say that I was on doing some international flights, Tim, you’re doing international flights and there are ratings on a lot of the programs there. And this is a different program, but I’m going to jump into it for just a second. Because on some of the movies, they were rated R and then it says, TV-14. And so, I knew that that was an R movie with certain scenes cut out. And so at the front of it, it says this movie has been modified, it’s been edited for content, which brought me back to VidAngel, which they’re trying to edit the bad content out and now they’re in court because the movie people say no, you can’t edit content out. Well, how come you let all the airplanes do it and you let all these others do it and you let movies shown on TV be edited so that they’re TV-14 rather than what? That’s a different discussion.

But nonetheless, I was reminded, we have a Jewish friend in Israel who was talking to us recently. And he said that the problem with Jews is if you get 10 men in a room, you’re going to come out 25 opinions. Well, that’s not Jews, that’s everybody. That’s a human. But that seems to be where the TV ratings are right now. That if every producer gets to set his own rating and if every network sets their own ratings, I mean, my gosh, how many networks are there now? And they all have different standards, but they all have the same ratings.

Tim:

Yeah, and one of the things you know, even before you had the expansion of Netflix and Amazon Prime and Hulu and YouTube TV, right, all these streaming services or right, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, different places that are creating their own content as well. When you go back to just standard TV, I mean, even, right when it’s just rabbit ears, go back to the 80s, the 90s whatever it was, and even back then, one of the most points out is right, you could see an increase of violence in language and basic television programming

David:

Yeah, she was calling it content creep, I thought that was an interesting term, the content creep out is moving forward and progressing.

Tim:

Well, that’s it, right? It’s like that old story about, how do you boil a frog? You turn up the heat just a little bit at a time to where, you redefine the norm and it gets used to the new norm. And well, no, this is normal, that PG has always had these cuss words. And you’re like, no, PG did not used to have all those cuss words in a PG movie. But this is where, right that creep happens.

And certainly, what used to be the expectation was if we’re watching daytime television or basic television programming, even primetime whatever it is, that it was going to be family friendly, but we have now redefined what family friendly is. And I mean, dad kind of sidetrack a little bit like when you reference VidAngel, right? This is one of the problems even when you look at impeachment is,Judges sit on the bench, not for lifetime, but for a duration of good behavior. The problem is we know we’re going to know how to define good behavior. When you look at impeaching a president, we no longer know how to define what our high crime and misdemeanors, right. We don’t know how to define basic words. And so, things have now evolved and changed to be something they never were. And this is what happen when we look at standards with TV is it’s evolved. And content has gotten so much worse, as far as what we have now accepted and adopted. And one thing I never thought would have been the case, as Melissa said, well, it got a lot worse after they started implementing the ratings. Because…

David:

Yeah, yeah, I thought that was interesting. Yeah.

Tim:

Right. Because then people go, oh, well, if all I have to do to have this content is tell you, it’s rated R, well, then it’s rated R and now I can show you all the things I wanted to show you that I thought made this movie better. And I would not have guessed that. I would have thought that possibly the ratings would have helped people judge content better or whatever else. Now, if that made things get worse, whether it also tells me is probably that is the people who make movies are very smart on many levels and so they’re going to make the content that they can sell. And so, if people are not watching that, they’re not going to sell it. So, it also is probably a reflection of our culture is, that cultures embracing those kind of redefine norms, those kind of redefined values where we no longer know what a family value is anymore. At least we redefine it differently.

David:

We don’t know family what is any more, much less a family value.

Tim:

Right. I mean, I remember, my wife and I were talking just recently, guys about how we were pulling into our driveway and the neighbors across the street were cursing at their children who are, the oldest one is in elementary level and just on down and just dropping F bombs and all these negative things. And we’re just like, what is happening right now with our kids in the front yard? And like, you know, for them, it didn’t seem like it was that big of a deal. They’ve redefined this as the norm for their family. And we’ve seen a lot of this with ratings, which made it interesting when you look at the reviews or the ratings that were done, I guess, the feedback for the 1,800 or 1,900 comments about ratings that 99% said, we think what’s happening is a problem.

David:

Everybody, except the lobbyist.

Tim:

You know, it’s interesting. And so now having FCC in charge of verifying ratings, is also interesting. Because but guys, obviously, we’re not generally a fan of putting more groups, having kind of a wider overreach of bureaucracy. But having now somebody outside of the individual network provider be able to say, here’s what we think the rating should be. If you can have at least a more consistent universal standard, it certainly will make it easier for parents to be able to navigate that, although if VidAngel could just get their lawsuit settled, right, hurry up and get the win and they still have a lot of great content of VidAngel. And there’s other platforms that help do some things like that as well to help censor content as well. But yeah, certainly interesting, looking at kind of the rating mess and where culture is going and now certainly, what we have to be aware of as parents and leaders in culture, especially leaders of kids of how can we help them navigate the content, the stuff they’re dealing with, the stuff they’re going through? Just an interesting time we live in.

Rick:

I made a special show with David French talking about the constitutionality of quarantine. So, check that out of wallbuilderslive.com. And also, you can go, we got links there on that particular day for his podcast. And then also on our website today at wallbuilderslive.com, you can click on ‘My Constitutional Minute’ videos that cover this topic as well. And we really dive into the details of the Federal versus State powers on this. What are those statutes at the federal level versus the regulations handed down by Health and Human Services say in terms of what the power of the federal government is? And then we also dive in a little more to these questions of can churches be shut down, can restaurants be shut down? All of those things are covered in those videos as well. So be sure to check that out. It’s all available right there at wallbuilderslive.com.

And then the last place I want to send you today is to constitutioncoach.com. As I said at the top of the program, it is a great way for you to spend this time at home. Number one, for yourself to be able to go through our Constitution class. You can do it right there at home. You can use the digital workbook, it’s interactive, watch the videos online, all of that. You can do it at constitutioncoach.com today by getting signed up as one of our Constitution hosts and we are waiving that normal license fee for this time period at home here. It is normally a $97 a year license to be able to be a Constitution host and share the videos with your friends and family on Zoom. We’re going to let you do that for free. Let’s take advantage of this time and redeem the time and have as many people as possible learn their constitutional rights and learn how to be a good citizen. So, you can do that. You can be the catalyst for restoring constitutional and biblical principles. You can use our materials to do that. Go to constitutioncoach.com today get signed up as a Constitution host.

If you want to go ahead and become a Constitution coach, we’ve got other plans there you can do as well, but we’re waiving the Constitution host fee, which gives you the ability to immediately host a class from your home on Zoom. So, you can actually be, you know, have your friends and family there, their videos on. You can be looking at each other and talking and interacting. It’s a great way to still have some community during all of this and then also cover some great topics. And it’s fun, it’s entertaining, it’s inspiring, it’s educational.

Each time you go through one of those classes with your friends and family, you will have hope you will be encouraged about the future of our country and you will learn how to do more how to be a force multiplier that makes a difference right now in your community and your State in restoring those constitutional and biblical principles. Check it all out at constitutioncoach.com. Redeem the time, do it right now and look at ways you can get involved. And also, you’ll join our community of other Constitution hosts and coaches in our private Facebook pages and other things like that where you can engage in some great conversations and, and learn a lot of great things about the history of our country, what made it great in the first place and how to restore much of that greatness. Check it out there at constitutioncoach.com.

And then I already mentioned it. But wallbuilderslive.com is a place where you can catch up on the radio programs that you might have missed Over the last few weeks or months, you can also do that through the podcast apps and other areas as well. But go to wallbuilderslive.com, because that’s also the place where you can make that contribution. And yes, I know these are tough times and I know that we’re facing some challenges ahead. We’re just asking that you would keep us on your list for those donations and investing in freedom. It’s a great time to make sure that we’re still able to be out there giving, you know, sharing truth and giving great education and entertainment at the same time as we teach these things that are going to save our republic.

We sure appreciate you listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders live.