Skip to main content

Broadcast networks to offer TV ratings for online programs

The nation's four major broadcast networks, along with TeleFutura, Telemundo and Univision, announced June 11 they plan to offer parents ratings tools for online content to help them make decisions about the programming their children view on the Internet.

ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC as well as the three Spanish-language television networks will make the TV ratings system available for all full-length entertainment that they stream via the websites they control, the networks said.

According to a press release announcing the plan, each broadcaster will make its own decision about the system it will use. TV ratings will appear before each full-length program begins in the online programming description. Network websites also will provide visitors with links to information about the ratings system. The networks have committed to having the online ratings system in place by Dec. 1.

The plan to offer TV ratings for online programming found favor in Washington, D.C. ""I applaud the networks' commitment to empower parents. With our rapidly changing media marketplace, it is vital parents have tools to help them make informed choices," said Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski.

The NAB also expressed support for the initiative. "This represents a voluntary, good-faith effort from distributors of the most popular programming to empower and educate parents in monitoring the viewing habits of children," said NAB executive VP Communications Dennis Wharton.

The Parents Television Council was more reserved in its praise. While the children's TV watchdog said it welcomes the decision to expand TV ratings to online content, it pointed out that the decision "rings hollow" if the TV ratings system isn't reformed to do away with inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and a lack of transparency and accountability.

"Unfortunately, if the online rating system is similar to the current television rating system, then this move is a distinction without difference. PTC has proven time and time again that the TV content ratings system is a facade, citing inaccurate and inconsistent ratings designated by the networks themselves with no accountability," said PTC president Tim Winter.