Commentary

Push To Give TV Commercials Content Ratings

Some legislators and other public interest groups want to push the FCC to review the onscreen TV content ratings system -- including possible ratings for TV advertising content.

Onscreen TV program ratings allow viewers to know the scope of content on TV shows -- whether it has violent scenes, explicit sexual content, or more family-oriented fare.

But that’s not all. Sen. Jim Lankford (R-Okla.) is asking the FCC about a possible review of TV commercials, for content that also may need a rating mark. 

The idea is for commercials to display on a rating somewhere in the video -- telling consumers, for example, what they are seeing has violent, explicit sexual content, or perhaps just family-oriented fare.

But how does one handle this real-time media -- with no lead time for viewers to bail? A 15 -, 30-, or 60-second commercial can come fairly fast.

Currently, a TV content rating for a TV show can appear on the screen before actual programming. In addition, on many electronic TV program guides, via a pay TV provider, ratings appear next to show descriptions.

Some examples: TV-14 (content which adults may find unsuitable for children under the age of 14) for NBC’s “Chicago Med”; TV-MA (for mature audiences) for HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”; and TV-G (a rating where children could watch) for Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games.”

In short, erectile dysfunction drugs might get a stronger content rating than, say, an ad for Procter & Gamble’s Swiffer.

What about an ad for plaque psoriasis medication, where a skin video might upset someone?

Perhaps some racier, or disturbing content, should be left for the internet viewer to screen on YouTube or other platforms. Much easier to click off an ad within, say, a few seconds.

For already hard-pressed TV brand advertisers looking for alternative, supplemental media exposure (with highly valued digital media ROI results), this wouldn’t be good news.

Or would it?

A hard “TV-MA” rating with racy or violent content for a video game on some select cable TV networks, for example, might have some viewers -- especially younger viewers -- hit "play."

Would any new TV-video advertising model have a more content and contextual focus thanks to a TV content rating system?

1 comment about "Push To Give TV Commercials Content Ratings".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, March 18, 2019 at 2:24 p.m.

    What about doing the same thing for the TV shows, themselves, Wayne. Before each scene the viewer could be alerted about sexual or violent content and the show could pause so the parents could usher the kids out of the room. And, maybe, the same could be applied to social media---when these "platforms" finally get themselves regulated.

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