Poll: Control of TV Content Up to Viewers

An overwhelming majority of voters believe that viewers and not the government should make decisions about what is appropriate to watch on television, according to a poll conducted for the group TV Watch.

A telephone survey of 501 registered voters found that 82 percent said they would prefer to see individuals exercise personal choice over what they see on TV, with 12 percent favoring government regulation, TV Watch said Thursday.

The organization was formed last year with the stated goals of helping educate parents about the tools available to make family viewing choices and countering government control of TV programming.

According to TV Watch's Web site, members include the American Conservative Union, the Media Freedom Project, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and media giants NBC Universal and CBS Corp.

"We need to remove the fog of misinformation, hyperbole and emotions that have been the calling card of a vocal minority pushing the government to become more involved in television regulation," said Jim Dyke, executive director of TV Watch.

Earlier this month, the government renewed its crackdown on what it considers indecency in television by proposing a total of $3.9 million in new fines, including a record $3.6 million fine involving the depiction of a teenage sexual orgy on CBS' "Without a Trace."

The FCC also upheld its $550,000 fine against CBS stations for Janet Jackson's 2004 Super Bowl flash of nudity.

Dyke said the poll conducted for TV Watch reinforces the fact the public believes "that parents should be making the decisions about what their children should and shouldn't see on TV, as opposed to the government making decisions."

Families need to be made aware of the V-chip, cable and satellite blocking devices and other tools available to them to screen content, Dyke said Thursday.

In the survey conducted by Russell Research on March 24-26, voters were asked if they would be upset if program choices were curtailed because the government "went too far in its attempt to control what's on television." Three-quarters said they would be.

While a majority of people believe there are always those who find something offensive on TV, 87 percent said they don't think the interests of a few should dictate television content, the survey found.

The poll's margin of error was 4.4 percent, TV Watch said.