Public attitudes toward ethical issues in tv programming: Multiple viewer orientations

Journal of Mass Media Ethics 7 (3):133 – 150 (1992)
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Abstract

Telephone survey of 293 TV viewers in Minneapolis-St. Paul investigated how viewers evaluate ethical issues and problematic content in TV news and entertainment programs, and attitudes toward methods of controlling TV content. In rating eight hypothetical news and entertainment scenarios, viewers appeared more willing to accept ethical breaches in entertainment than in news programs. In evaluating the severity of general problems in TV programming, most viewers considered violence, adult themes, and a lack of family values to be big problems. Different methods of controlling potentially problematic content were evaluated, with viewers overwhelmingly endorsing a system of ratings or warnings, as well as restricting content to certain times or channels. Governmental regulation as a form of controlling TV content was strongly rejected. This article demonstrates the usefulness and appropriateness of empirical research in involving the audience in an active role in the study of media ethics.

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