The Parents Television Council is calling out Fox Broadcasting for rating an episode of “The Following” that showed a young woman having her throat brutally and graphically slit open as appropriate for children as young as 14.
The episode aired as early as 8 pm CT/MT and was given a TV-14 (Parents Strongly Cautioned) rating instead of a more appropriate TV-MA (Mature Audience Only) rating.
Says the PTC: “In the episode, the young woman is taken hostage by the psychopathic follower of a charismatic serial killer. He holds a knife to her throat and slowly draws it across her neck, slicing her throat open as blood runs from the wound. The killer is gunned down by police and his victim collapses to the floor, dead. The victim is shown again later in a close-up that shows the bloody gaping slit across her throat. See the video here.
“According to the Fox Broadcast Network, a woman having her throat brutally, graphically slit open on primetime television is appropriate for children. This is just the latest – but perhaps the most brazen – example of a wholly fraudulent TV content ratings system that serves no one but the networks’ own financial interest,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “The PTC recently called on Michael Powell, in his capacity as chairman of the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board, for immediate and comprehensive reform to the content ratings system. This most recent episode of ‘The Following’ underscores just how broken the current system is. Based on the industry’s published content ratings definitions, this program should have been rated TV-MA, meaning it was appropriate for mature audiences only. But rating the program accurately would have resulted in fewer viewers and – more importantly for Fox Broadcasting – fewer advertising dollars. Such a system carries an inherent and unmistakable conflict of interest. It’s time for this practice of deceiving viewers – as well as deceiving the corporate sponsors – to stop. If the TV content ratings system is to be of any value to those whom it is intended to serve – parents – then the ratings must be accurate, consistent, transparent and publicly accountable. The current system is none of those things; and the TV networks act with complete impunity as to any consequence, knowing full well that the system is rigged to protect their wallets at the expense of children and families.”
PTC says it will also be contacting each and every sponsor of this program – including KFC, Dunkin Donuts, and Burger King – “to hold them publicly to account for the horrific violence made possible by their ad dollars.”
Fox declined to comment.