NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Report Claims Sex and Violence Waning on TV

March 22, 2002

Sex and violence on television is on the decline -- despite the fact that American viewers still prefer tawdry fare -- according to a new report by the Center for Media and Public Affairs.

  • Sexual material on television fell by 29 percent and violence by 17 percent in the last three years, according to the study.
  • Cable networks are reportedly cleaning up their acts at a much faster pace than broadcast networks -- with sex and violence down 31 percent and 11 percent respectively on broadcast TV, and 49 percent and 65 percent on cable.
  • It labeled NBC the "raunchiest" network and deemed CBS the most violent.
  • ABC entertainment president Susan Lyne has been quoted as saying that network "lost its way" and vowed to return to traditional family-oriented comedies and dramas.

Not everyone is on the squeaky-clean bandwagon, however. Ratings reveal that some viewers still prefer tacky shows.

ESPN and sister channel ESPN2 recently aired two versions -- a salty-language and a vulgarity-free edition -- of "A Season on the Brink," a film based on the life of basketball coach Bobby Knight. Six times as many viewers tuned in to watch the salty version as did those opting for the purer production.

Source: Jennifer Harper, "TV Checks Libido, Gore, But Audience Prefers Salty Fare," Washington Times, March 22, 2002.


Browse more articles on Government Issues