TV Parental Guidelines
TV Parental Guidelines


Ratings Explained

The television industry designed a TV ratings system – known as the TV Parental Guidelines – to give parents more information about the content and age-appropriateness of TV programs. Know the facts:

  • Guidelines are modeled after the familiar movie ratings. They are designed to be easily recognizable and simple to use.

  • Guidelines apply to most television programs, including those directed specifically to young children. However, sports and news shows as well as most home shopping and religious programming do not carry the Guidelines.

  • The ratings icon and associated content descriptors appear at the beginning of a program in the upper-left corner of the TV screen. If the program is more than one hour in length, the icon will reappear at the beginning of the second hour. Many channels also display the ratings icon after each commercial break.

  • TV ratings are applied on an episode-by-episode basis. This can result in individual shows within a series carrying different ratings.

  • Movies and television series may be edited differently based on when and what channel they air. Individual shows may be edited differently based on the time of the day and the channel they air – premium cable (e.g., HBO), basic cable (e.g., USA Network) or broadcast (e.g., ABC) – which can result in one show having different ratings to reflect the specific version being aired.

  • Thousands of hours of TV programming are rated every day. Program producers and distributors expend significant resources reviewing and rating programs before they air and have employees dedicated to ensuring that programs are appropriately rated.

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