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National News

Sex on TV: Study Finds More Responsible Content

February 5, 2003

In its third biennial study of TV shows -- 1,123 of them on 10 network and cable channels -- the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation says it found more references than ever to safer sex topics, including sex protection, consequences of sex and postponement of sexual activity.

Among shows with sexual content -- including talk about sex and sexual behavior -- 15 percent included at least one reference to safer sex. That is up from 10 percent in the last study two years ago. Even more promising, the foundation says, is that among teenagers' top 20 shows, 45 percent of the episodes that included sexual intercourse (discussed or depicted) included references to safer sex.

The study "Sex on TV 3" was conducted for the Kaiser Family Foundation by Professor Dale Kunkel and students and colleagues at the University of California-Santa Barbara. Program coders underwent up to 80 hours of methodology training. The study was based on television programs monitored from October 2001 through March 2002. It included all genres with the exceptions of daily newscasts, sports events and children's shows. The 10 channels in the study represent broadcast networks, syndicated programming, public television, basic cable and premium cable. Included in the survey: ABC, CBS, Fox, HBO, Lifetime, NBC, TNT, PBS, USA and the WB affiliate in Los Angeles, KTLA.

Eighty-three percent of teenagers' top 20 shows included sexual content, 20 percent of them dealing in some way with intercourse, the Kaiser study showed. Fourteen percent of all shows include sexual intercourse, compared with 10 percent two years ago. Overall, sexual content on television shows was 64 percent, compared with 68 percent two years ago.

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Vicky Rideout, a Kaiser vice president who directed the "Sex on TV 3" study, said its goal has been "to draw Hollywood's attention to the impact that sexual content has on young people [and] the opportunity [producers] have to play a positive role." Copies of the report go to legislators and other policymakers and "groups that work on adolescent health issues," she said.

Following are the percentages of TV categories with sexual content, followed by the percentage with safer sex messages. Soap operas: 96/17; movies: 87/18; comedies: 73/8; dramas: 71/18; talk shows: 65/28; news magazines: 53/6; reality shows: 28/21.

Back to other CDC news for February 5, 2003

Previous Updates

Adapted from:
Cincinnati Enquirer
02.04.03; Mike Pulfer



  
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
 

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