Oops! WaPo TV Writer Asserts '2.9 Children Ages 2 to 11' Watched Broadcast TV

The latest report by the Parents Television Council on violence against women in prime-time broadcast TV drew major-media attention – some of it flagrantly incorrect. Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes complained that PTC should have studied cable shows instead of broadcast shows, and only mangled statistics by a favor of...a million:

The PTC report brings us no closer to understanding the situation. In Feburary 2004, 2.9 children ages 2 to 11 watched those four broadcast networks that PTC whomped on in this study. Meanwhile more than 5 million children watched prime-time cable TV. And, in May 2009, 1.5 million children watched ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in prime time, while more than 7 million children chose cable programming instead.

Let’s hope the Post corrections box fixes this tomorrow – and the online version gets fixed any minute. The Post writer’s larger point is aimed at dismissing the study, rather than real curiosity in violence on cable. It’s easiest to study the major networks, and not try to evaluate fifty smaller ones.

By the Post's logic, studying newspapers by looking at the Washington Post, the New York Times, and USA Today is unrealistic when millions more read tinier newspapers like the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. Can’t a study of the major channels represent a trend on TV?

Lisa deMoraes also doesn’t tell the reader the relevant point that the Federal Communications Commission has no jurisidiction over regulating the content of cable TV, only broadcast.

Washington Post Lisa de Moraes
Tim Graham's picture