Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies - A Program of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

How Supportive are Americans of Freedom of Expression on Broadcast Television?

Attitudes toward content restrictions on broadcast television

The State of the First Amendment 2005 survey asked "Who should be primarily responsible for keeping inappropriate material on television away from children: Parents, Government officials, or Broadcasters?" The responses demonstrate an overwhelming belief by the American public that responsibility for children's television viewing lies with their parents. Eighty-two percent of respondents said parents should be the ones to restrict children's access to inappropriate television. In contrast, only 2% said that government should. [First Amendment Center. 2005. State of the First Amendment 2005. Nashville, TN: First Amendment Center.]

Chart: Shielding Children from Inappropriate Television Content (State of the First Amendment Survey 2005)

Although Americans said that parents should be responsible for children's television access, significant proportions of the American public (often a majority) supported government restrictions on specific types of television content, including:

  • sexually-explicit material (66%)
  • nudity (60%)
  • violence (60%)
  • scenes portraying illegal drug use (59%)
  • speech offensive to racial groups (58%)
  • curse words (57%)
  • commercials targeted to children (57%)
  • speech offensive to religious groups (47%)
  • scenes portraying homosexuality (46%)

Chart: Attitudes Toward Regulating Broadcast Television (State of the First Amendment Survey 2005)


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