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.
Cartoon Network and, ironically, ABC Family Channel were ranked most violent by Bozell's workers. Disney Channel was the least violent on the Bozell-o-Meter, with an average of fewer than one instance per hour.
Violence in cartoons is nothing new, the study acknowledged in its wrap-up.
"What has changed is that the violence is ubiquitous, often sinister, and in many cases, frighteningly realistic," it continued, noting the influence of Japanese anime on children's cartoons.
"We do realize that this is probably not a deliberate effort to undermine the social fabric of young children," Bozell said in a statement issued with the study, "but this thoughtlessness still produces the same end result."
* * *
Our long nightmare is over.
NBC announced yesterday that Anthony Clark will host the next edition of "Last Comic Standing," which will air this summer.
That means not only that Jay Mohr, who had a very public falling out with NBC over the show and whose shoulder chip seemed to be growing at an alarming rate, will not be back, but also, and more important, the CBS sitcom "Yes, Dear" must finally be close to being put out of our misery.
Surely CBS would never allow the star of one of its prime-time series to star in a series for a competing network? Determined to get to the bottom of this important, important story, we called a CBS rep, who confirmed for The TV Column that, yes, "Yes, Dear" will not return next season.
(Insert Happy Dance here.)
Mohr was widely presumed to be gonesville after publicly dissing NBC when the network yanked "Last Comic Standing" with just one episode remaining in its third edition.
That episode, of course, being the one in which the winner of the competition was going to be revealed. And if that's not a big nose-pick at viewers, I don't know what is.
"Amazing. Why would a network cancel a show with only one episode left?" Mohr asked -- reasonably we thought -- on his Web site.
Especially since NBC had rushed the third edition, in which comics from the first two seasons returned to have it out, for fall 2004 after the second edition (on which, by the way, Clark served as a judge in the early episodes) did great numbers over the summer.
The final episode of the third edition finally did air -- on Comedy Central.
Clark has starred for six seasons on "Yes, Dear," for which he has our sympathy.