Violence! Violence! Violence! Burps! Nose Picking!

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By Lisa de Moraes
Friday, March 3, 2006

Self-appointed TV watchdog Brent Bozell has put out the gazillionth study on children's television, in which he reveals that there is more violence on children's entertainment programming than in prime time.

Over a three-week period in the summer of 2005, his minions watched after-school and Saturday morning programming on ABC, Fox, NBC, the WB, ABC Family, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, for a total of 443.5 hours of kids' fare.

"The results were staggering," the study from Bozell's Parents Television Council said, citing 3,488 instances of violence -- an average of 7.86 per hour.

"Even when the innocent, 'cartoony' violence most of us grew up with (e.g. an anvil falling on Wile E. Coyote's head) is extracted, there were still 2,794 instances of violence for an average of 6.30 violent incidents per hour."

To put this in perspective, the study noted that in 2002, the six broadcast networks combined averaged a mere 4.71 instances of violence per hour of prime-time programming, according to a PTC study at that time, "Bloodbath: Violence on Prime Time Network TV."

Though that prime-time rate of violence now looks like child's play, excuse the pun, Bozell has, with uncharacteristic restraint, named his new report merely "Wolves in Sheep's Clothing: A Content Analysis of Children's Television."

But the latest PTC study doesn't look only at violence in kids' programming. That just scratches the surface of "Wolves."

Did you know, for instance, that Cartoon Network has the highest rate of nose-picking of any of the studied networks, with a shocking 12 instances over the three-week period? Followed closely by the WB with nine nose picks?

The WB, on the other hand, is hands down the worst offender when it comes to burping, with a disgusting 37 instances in the study period, followed by Nickelodeon with 25 burps.

Scene: Interior of Los Angeles-based PTC headquarters. Bozell addresses group of fresh-faced, bright-eyed staffers: "And for your next assignment, over the next three weeks, you will watch 443.5 hours of kids' programming for signs of belching, farting and nose-picking."

The WB also clocked an alarming 43 drools but, mercifully, zero nudity or references to homosexuality or puberty, the study found.

As a whole, the networks whose kids' lineup consists mostly of live-action shows -- that would be Fox and NBC -- have "overwhelmingly less questionable content," the study concluded.


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© 2006 The Washington Post Company

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