PTC Report: TV shows about families aren’t “Family-Friendly”

The Parents Television Council released a report finding that 99 percent of broadcast television shows about families contain some form of adult content (sex, violence, and profanity).

“Parents often assume that TV shows about families are ‘safe’ viewing choices, but our study shows that families who watch TV shows about families will be barraged by sex and profanity – even on TV-PG-rated shows. This is unacceptable,” said PTC President Tim Winter.

“Even on some of the more ‘family-friendly’ shows, there is still adult content such as pixilated nudity and bleeped profanity. Also disturbing is that adult characters aren’t the only ones ‘delivering’ the lines with adult content – children are too.

“Families want shows that are ‘safe’ to watch together and they are under the false impression that broadcast TV shows about families will deliver. But the insidious reason why they aren’t delivering is because broadcast TV networks have something else on their minds – competing with cable shows. Ironically, broadcast TV shows have the capacity to attract many millions of viewers, and therefore, more ad dollars, while cable networks can be ‘successful’ with only a few million viewers.

“Yet NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt recently admitted that broadcast TV needs to be mindful of its audience in order to appeal to more people. He said, ‘The flip side is, in the broadcast world, you need to appeal to many more millions of people. Therefore, forget about what the FCC says. You just need to be more mindful of language and subject matter, and what certain characters do because, the entire country, in spite of the fact that we live in a very liberal business, does not want to see lots of sexuality. They do not want to hear language. They do not want to see serial killers running around being the centerpieces of shows. They don't watch those kinds of shows. And it's not just because they don't have the [pay] services in their homes to watch them. They don't seek them out.’ [Source: TVNewsCheck]

“This should be reason enough for the entertainment industry to ‘remember families,’ when it comes to trying to appeal to a broad audience, and therefore, create programming that the entire family can watch together without having adult content shoved in their faces. It’s really a no-brainer. Families want to watch shows about families, but without the sex or profanity that’s all too common on current fare,” Winter concluded.

Key Findings:

  • Note: PTC analysts examined every major broadcast network and every primetime show that featured family as central to their storyline. The study period was from the beginning of each network’s fall 2013 season through December 31, 2013.
  • Within the range of shows about family, some are typically considered “family-friendlier” than others (i.e. “Family Guy” vs. “The Michael J. Fox Show”). The study revealed that families are viewing sexual content and hearing explicit language even when choosing shows that are often considered “family-friendlier” options.
  • Even in the “family-friendlier” shows, explicit adult content was not only delivered by adult characters, explicit adult content was delivered by children.
  • Over half (54 percent) of the shows about family were rated TV-PG. However, the TV-PG shows were five times more likely not to include rating descriptors (D, L, S, V) that warn parents of the presence of explicit language compared to TV-14 shows.
  • TV-PG shows were equally as likely to contain explicit language as TV-14 shows (93.6 percent and 93.5 percent respectively). Language on TV-PG programming included: Bleeped s-words, bleeped f-words, bitch, penis, son-of-a-bitch, dick, screw, vagina, slut, ass, banging, hell, douche, bone, piss, slut, whore, and more.
  • Seventy-three percent of the violent content was found in TV-14 shows and was appropriately rated to warn parents. Scenes that did contain violence but did not have a ‘V’ descriptor in the rating tended to be scenes that depicted milder forms of violence.
  • Some of the most explicit content identified in the study (e.g. pixilated nudity, bleeped profanity, etc.) aired on shows that would typically be considered “family-friendlier” fare.

The full PTC report, “Remembering Families,” along with a video of content examples, can be found here:

The Parents Television Council® ( is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members and 57 chapters across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC™ also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families. Visit the new PTC Watchdog Blog at