US TV Viewers' Mixed Message on 'Indecency'

21 April 2005

US television viewers want tougher action on broadcasting indecency but at the same time are concerned about government interference in the media.

Public policy researcher Pew Research Center, says three-quarters of adults surveyed want to see tougher enforcement of regulations on broadcast TV content to protect children, while nearly two-thirds want the rules extended to cable and satellite companies.

But US citizens are also mindful of their constitutional right to free speech, and more of them (48%) are worried about undue government influence on the media than are concerned at the entertainment industry producing harmful content (41%).

To nobody's great surprise the division is along political lines, with fifty seven percent of republicans saying indecency is their biggest concern, while 72% of democrats see excessive government regulation as the greater evil.

US television comes in for general disapproval among those polled by the Pew Center. Sixty six percent of people claim shows are worse than five years ago, and just 24% believe they are better.

Gay characters in programs, drug use and reality shows that play tricks on people are themes that bother viewers most. They also worry about internet content.

The Pew Center poll shows 73% of people are concerned about online indecency, while those fears are even greater among parents (81%).

Data sourced from AdAge (USA); additional content by WARC staff