Violence against women is increasing on TV, according to a new study from the Parents Television Council — and its leaders are urging network exec to step in suggesting the violence could desensitize youths and cause incidents like the “horrendous gang rape” of a woman last weekend in Richmond, Calif.
“A wave of media violence is hitting the public like a tsunami,” said PTC president Tim Winter. He said not only are incidents of violence against women and girls increasing in storylines, but the violence is getting “more graphic and more gruesome.”
PTC’s study tracked depiction of “female victimization” and violence on primetime broadcast TV from 2004 to 2009, focusing on sweeps periods in February and May each year. It didn’t study cable, saying it didn’t have enough staff.
The study noted that depiction of violence overall has changed little over the years — up 2 percent from 2004. Depiction of violence against women, however, was up 120 percent.
It said 29 percent of the incidents were beatings, 18 percent credible threats of violence, 11 perdent were shootings, 8 percent were rapes, 6 percent stabbings and 2 percent torture — but that in 92 percent of the incidents, graphic violence against women was depicted, not just implied.
“The raw number is not in epidemic proportion,” said Winter. “What is sobering is the trend.”
He suggested that the impact of violence on TV had a desensitizing effect, especially on youths and he urged TV networks and TV advertisers to act. He pointed to the rape incident in Richmond and to recent publicity about pro athletes being involved in beatings.
“I believe it is having a devastating effect,” he said.
PTC included cartoon violence in its examination, and the group rapped Fox for violence against women in "Family Guy" and "American Dad," accusing the network of “trivializing the gravity of the issue of violence against women.” Fox declined comment.
PTC said every network except ABC “demonstrated a dramatic increase in the number of storylines that included violence against women.”
It said the number was up 192 percent at NBC, 119 percent at CBS, 109 percent at Fox and 39 percent at ABC. CBS had the highest number of incidents.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has repeatedly expressed concerns about the amount of violence on TV and Winter said his group had sent the senator the study.
Winter said he was hopeful that the TV industry would act voluntarily to lessen incidents but also that Sen. Rockefeller would hold a hearing to push the TV industry to act.