The Parents Television Council is chiding ABC for an episode of "Scandal" that featured a graphic torture scene, which the org says points to "the needed action to end the hypocrisy and disregard by TV networks for the impacts of media violence."
The PTC is a longtime and familiar TV watchdog, but they have singled out "Scandal" not just for its content but because it was aired on the same evening last week when Vice President Joseph Biden was meeting with TV and movie representatives as he draws up a list of recommendations on reducing gun violence.
The PTC noted that the network issued an advisory at the beginning of the program, but "they should have rated it as TV-MA."
"It is sickening just how quickly the entertainment industry was able to move past the tragedy of Newtown and get back to business as usual," said PTC president Tim Winter. "Every television network has publicly defended their programming while refusing to accept one iota of responsibility for contributing to a media culture soaked in violence." He added that they "continue to hide behind a failed content rating system that currently proclaims every series on the public airwaves to be appropriate for a 14-year-old child."
He described the scene as"a man struggling to breathe while being waterboarded, his nose being broken and his face beaten into a bloody mess, blood spattering on the walls, and being kicked and beaten into submission."
The chiefs of the networks each addressed the issue of violence at the Television Critics Assn. press tour last week, but Winter also said it amounted to passing the buck.
Winter said, "NBC’s Bob Greenblatt defends his content by pointing his finger at crime procedurals on CBS. CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler defends her network’s violent content, saying it is intended for adults, yet she is rating those shows as being appropriate for children. Fox chief Kevin Reilly claims his broadcast doesn’t influence a behavior change for the viewer. Is that what he tells his advertisers, who pay him billions of dollars every year solely for the purpose of influencing the behavior of his viewers?"
Biden still has not unveiled his proposals, or whether any will touch upon media violence. But at his 2 1/2 hour session with the entertainment industry on Thursday, executives at the table spent much of the time explaining what they have done to date, including voluntary ratings system and public service announcements, sources say.