TV Tunes In Ratings

The television industry announced their New Year’s resolution yesterday: By January 2nd, all programming, except sports and news, will be rated by a system similar to that used for movies. A small label will appear on the upper left-hand corner of the screen for the first 15 seconds of every show. Producers, local stations and cable networks will decide what programs get what ratings. The new system is divided into six categories:

TV-Y: Programs geared for children between the ages of 2 and 6, including cartoons and educational shows.

TV-Y7: Still for children, but these programs incorporate touches of violence or sexuality that may be inappropriate for little tykes (like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers).

TV-G: Shows suitable for a general audience, including most sitcoms.

TV-PG: Parents take note: Shows including Friends and Murphy Brown could contain images or matters of an adult nature.

TV-14: Programs that regularly contain graphic violence or sexuality, including soap operas and action series, which should not be viewed by children under 14.

TV-M: Adults only. The TV equivalent of rated-R, these are not for children. Included is NBC’s upcoming airing of Schindler’s List.

In response to criticism that the ratings fail to flag programs for specific violent or sexual content, President Clinton said the new system is open to reform. It will eventually be encoded for the V-chip, which won’t be on the market until 1998.

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