US broadcasters to provide more tools for parents for online content

MUMBAI: US broadcasters ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, TeleFutura, Telemundo and Univision broadcast networks have announced a plan to provide additional ratings tools to give parents even greater decision-making power over their family‘s media consumption.

Parents will now be able use the TV ratings system when children access broadcast television programmes on the Internet. The networks are making the ratings information available for all full-length entertainment programs that stream on the websites that they control.

Each company will determine its own systems, and the networks have committed that the TV ratings will appear at the beginning of full-length video programs and also in the online programming descriptions. Network websites will also include or link to ratings system information.

This commitment is effective for rated programming televised beginning 1 December.

The Parents Television Council welcomed the decision by TV networks ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, Telefutura, Telemundo and Univision to expand their ratings to online content, a move PTC encouraged in a 2010 online video study. However, it cautioned that the decision rings hollow without reform to a system that lacks accuracy, consistency, transparency and accountability.

PTC president Tim Winter said, “We are pleased to see that the networks have finally expressed an intention to display ratings for their online content, which is something the PTC called for in our November 2010 study, ‘Untangling the Web of Internet Video.’ In that study, the PTC showed that four of the most popular online distributors, including Hulu, Fancast, /Slashcontrol, and AT&T, all failed to provide consistent and accurate content ratings for parents”.

The PTC does not want the online rating system to be similar to the current television rating system.

Said Winter, “The timing of this announcement on the eve of the Supreme Court’s broadcast decency decision in Fox v. FCC is dubious. Broadcasters have a unique publicly-granted privilege and it is past time for them to start providing real solutions to parents, rather than attempting half measures designed to sway the Court’s and the public’s opinion. This is too big an issue to continue playing games. We hope that the networks will allow more public involvement in designing a new system that will give parents the tools they need to protect children."

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