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Issue 12

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Is a Rating System Censorship?

Article on ratings
Photo: Sandy Peters
Newspaper headlines asks if rating systems work.

Some people feel that any form of rating system is censorship, a limit on freedom of speech. Others worry about the effect of violence, sex, and rude language on young people and feel a rating system is necessary to help parents monitor what their children watch.


Zorana and Jung-A read about ratings
Photo: Sandy Peters
Zorana Yawapongsirj from Thailand and Jung-A Lee from Korea read an article about TV ratings systems.

It's a Big Controversy

Yoshihiro Ozaki from Japan

Once we turn on the TV, we can find many violent scenes. Many parents are concerned that these kinds of shows have a bad effect on children, so they want government to make a form of rating system.

However, some people think this limits their civil liberties and are opposed to that, especially free speech supporters. They think if government tries to regulate programs, it's censorship. They say the TV industry should be able to express what they want to. If not, they regard that as a limit on freedom of expression.

This is a big issue now. Many parents don't want their children to be influenced by televised violence. They think some of these programs are also trashy and disgusting, and they just want violence on TV to disappear.

Although many free speech supporters can understand what many parents are thinking, they are still opposed to limits because they think once government begins to limit free speech, the limitations will increase. This is a big controversial problem.

Free Speech, Yes...But with Limits

Luciana de Azeredo Lucena from Brazil

Some people might think that any form of rating or classifying system is censorship. They say these systems take away the right to free speech.. TV producers, for example, say it limits their creativity when they have to follow censorship rules.

However, some TV producers only want to make money because it is a business for them. They often do not care if violent shows affect our society because they only want the audience.

This argument that censorship limits the freedom of speech is a very controversial one because if the government or another institution does not try to control the kind of TV programs we have, people can show whatever they want, and sometimes programs that are not considered too violent for adults can be very bad for children.

People should realize that they have free speech but with limits because we live together in society and we have to consider all the other people around us.

Replace Violent Programs with Creative Ones

Fernando Rodriguez Castro from Venezuela

Freedom of expression is one of the most important civil liberties. Free speech, means that you have the right to express yourself and say whatever you want. For that reason, any limit to that right could fall into the category of censorship.

However, sometimes, our rights have as a limit the rights of other people. To avoid conflict, there are laws to solve conflicts without violence, but every right has an obligation that means that you have to respect the rights of other people, so you should be the censor of your own behavior in order to avoid conflict with others. This is not a panacea, but it is the easiest way to live in community.

I think a strong rating system could be censorship, but I also think that there are a lot of trashy programs that should be taken off the air. The television industry should show more creative programs instead of violent ones.

Replace Violent Programs with Creative Ones

Lourdes Joza Gonzalez from Ecuador

Using censorship could seem like a panacea for the problem of violence on TV, but it is hard for me to believe it. All of us were children either a short time or a long time ago, so we know that when something is hidden, it becomes like a forbidden fruit for us. We know that if a child wants something, he will get it, so I can't swallow the idea that censorship would be a good solution.

I also think that it would not be correct because we as human beings have the right of freedom of expression. I oppose this kind of censorship. I know that even entertainment shows contain violence nowadays, but we also have to understand that these reflect reality.

Even though these programs have a strong impact on viewers, especially children, we can't hide the fact that sooner or later children are going to learn everything about violence.

I think the best solution is for the television industry to rate movies so we can know which are the most appropriate programs for our children. We should also explain to them that movies are only entertainment and aren't reality. Instead of blocking out violence on TV by censorship, we should block out violence from the world. I know it's difficult, but we can start trying to censor violence now!

Enjoy Your Rights; Respect Those of Others

Edibe Berrrin Ciftci from Turkey

People have a right to say whatever they think about something, but this doesn't necessarily mean that they have the right to do or tell everything because having some rights brings about some restrictions in terms of public life.

If we want to apply this issue to public TV, you cannot show whatever you like and whenever you like. TV is a very powerful device which has an effect on many public concerns. By showing trashy programmes, you have on influence on decreasing public education.

On the contrary, by showing wholesome programmes, you make an impact on improving social behavior.

Freedom of expression is a right for everybody, but using this right causes some concern. For example, when showing entertainment shows and reality programmes, producers must be careful; their programmes must reflect reality, but they shouldn't include disgusting reality.

Preparing shows for TV is difficult. Producers want their viewers to stick with them until the end of the programme, and some of them sometimes think the public will easily swallow anything and produce programs which are too violent or disgusting.

However many people object to these kinds of programmes, so they must be blocked out in some way. Having yours rights also means you have to respect the rights of others.

It's a Way to Live Together

Ana Ines Ruesjas Martin from Argentina

Nowadays TV ratings have become a controversy. The government says that rating programs for audiences is necessary because some shows might have a strong impact on the public which is already disgusted about the content of these programs.

People who like to watch violence on TV say thay oppose any form of ratings on TV programs because they feel using this procedure violates their rights and limits freedom of expression.

In my opinion, people who think that way are selfish because they are thinking only about what they want and not about the community where they live and the bad effects that programs with violence, sex and strong language are having on some people, expecially young people. I think it is not censorship. I think it's a way to live all together taking care of each other.

Importance of Rating TV Shows and Movies

Erica Martinez from Mexico

Every person has his own ideas and opinions, but we should realize how important it is to rate TV shows and movies. Ratings can tell parents if their kids should watch a movie or TV program or not.

I think that people who want total freedom of expression don't realize how harmful that could be for kids. It could have an impact on kids who have never watched violent scenes and suddenly see them when they turn on the TV. They see, even in the cartoons, how to kill another person.

This disgusts people who really care about their kids and want to know what their children are going to watch. I think everyone should consider others and realize that this is a problem.

People Have a Right to Express Themselves, but in a Good Way

Raul Rivera from Ecuador

Nowadays movies, TV shows, and cartoons are rated, depending on how much violence, strong language and sex they contain. Some people say that it is a way to prevent certain people from watching certain types of programs.

This issue has caused a big controversy. Some people say that any kind of ratings is censorship and oppose them. People who are opposed to censorship are right, but so are the other people who think ratings are necessary. People have the right to express themselves, but they should do it in a good way. People should be more creative when they produce entertainment programs and not just show violence.

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