The Parents Television Council fired another volley today at one of its favorite targets: adult-themed cartoons that also attract kids. The activist group called for “sweeping reform” of the TV content rating system as a study it released points to what it says are “shocking levels” of sex and drug references in primetime on animation channels that are popular with kids between 12 and 17. “Adult content isn’t just creeping into the cartoons that kids today are watching the most; it has overtaken much of that animated programming,” PTC president Tim Winter says. “Our data demonstrates that today’s norm is profanity-laden storylines involving everything from rape and cocaine to STDs and crystal meth.” PTC is especially upset with programming on Turner’s Cartoon Network and Adult Swim: The report, titled Cartoons Are No Laughing Matter, gave each an “F” grade for their handling of adult-themed animation. Disney Channel and Nick At Nite each received an “A”.
Adult Swim programming begins at 8 PM Central Time. But its shows including King of The Hill, Family Guy, American Dad!, Baby Blues, God the Devil and Bob, and The Venture Bros accounted for 95% of the sexual references, 65% of sexual depictions, 85% of the explicit language, and 100% of the drug references and depictions PTC’s analysts found in 123 episodes of programs on the four networks studied in March and April. The group also says that Cartoon Network “failed to use the ratings system to warn parents about sexual content, suggestive dialogue and explicit language 100% of the time.” PTC found that 32% of the TV-PG and TV-14 rated cartoons that aired in prime time on the four networks included ads for TV-MA shows and DVDs, and R-rated movies. Winter says that television’s rating system “fails parents and families when it comes to accuracy, consistency, transparency and accountability.” Responding to the PTC report, a Turner representative says: “Cartoon Network and Adult Swim are two distinct networks, targeting the age groups of 6-11 and 18-34, respectively. All shows are carefully reviewed and given the appropriate parental guideline rating and content descriptors with each network being properly identified.”