WASHINGTON — More than two-thirds of Americans believe television contributes to violence, erodes family values, and fosters a distrust of government, according to a new poll.
The public also is deeply troubled about increasingly graphic portrayals of sex during prime time, according to the poll, which appears in the U.S. News & World Report issue of April 8.
Nearly 80 percent of Hollywood executives questioned by mail in a separate survey agreed there was a link between TV violence and violence in real life, but they were not nearly as concerned about TV's role in other social problems.
One thousand adults were interviewed for the poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent. U.S. News said 570 of the 6,500 Hollywood executives who received the mail surveys responded to them.
Eighty-four percent of the general public said they were concerned about the relationship of extramarital sex on TV and real-life problems. In contrast, 43 percent of the Hollywood executives said they were concerned.
Seventy-five percent of the public said they were concerned about the portrayal of passionate encounters and heavy kissing on TV, compared with 28 percent of Hollywood leaders.
Meanwhile, 53 percent of the executives said TV contributed to distrust of government, and 46 percent thought it contributed to the decline of family values. Thirty-four percent believe TV played some role in America's divorce rate.
When asked about the solutions they would favor, 95 percent of both groups agreed that parental supervision was the most important step, the magazine said.
"Strong majorities also supported the installation of a V-chip on TV sets to allow parents to block out shows to which they object," the magazine said. To examine the kinds of messages the public receives over TV, the magazine looked at a week's worth of prime-time programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, and the Fox networks in mid-March.
Of the 58 shows monitored, almost half contained sexual acts or references to sex, U.S. News reported.
"Sexual innuendo and scatological humor are rampant even during the 8 p.m.-to-9 p.m. slot that used to be reserved for family-friendly programming," the magazine said.